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1976 Burns's Satiric . Jane Bowling Kennerly Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

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University Microfilms International 300 North Zeeb Road Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106 USA St. John's Road, Tyler's Green High Wycombe, Bucks, HP10 8HR KENNERLY,. Jane Bowling, 1942- ROBERT BURNS’S SATIRIC POETRY.

The Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College, Ph.D., 1976 , English

Xerox University Microfilms,Ann Arbor, Michigan 48106 ROBERT BURNS'S SATIRIC POETRY

A Dissertation

Submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy


The Department of English


Jane Bowling Kennerly B.A., University of Tennessee, 1963 M.A., University of Tennessee, 1965 December, 1976 ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The author wishes to express her appreciation to many who have assisted her in completing this manuscript. Dr. Annette McCormick, the director, has made generous contributions of time and advice; without her reasonableness, , and untiring efforts in review­ ing the manuscript, the work could not have been finished. The author also expresses her thanks to the other members of the committee,

Dr. Don Moore and Dr. John Wildman, for their careful readings and their helpful suggestions. She thanks her family for their steadfast confidence: her parents, for their patience, continued support, and emphasis on academic achievement; her brother and sister-in-law , for their interest and excellent . The precept, example, and concern, of two friends, Drs. Steve and Carolyn Morris Pyrek, have been invaluable. Her husband John has been unswerving in his expres­ sions of faith and encouragement.



TITLE P A G E ...... i


ABSTRACT...... iv


I. TARGETS OF ...... 1





VITA ...... 275


Although the lif e and writings of Robert Burns have been sub­ jected to much scrutiny and critical discussion, a major gap in Burns scholarship has long existed. No intensive or comprehensive analysis of Burns's has been written. Yet his satires, when examined in d e ta il, comprise an impressive body of work. This study, then, f i l l s a needed function by focusing on his achievements in satire.

Moreover, the examination reveals that by the time the

Edition was published (July 31, 1786) he had revealed fu lly or semi- nally the scope of his satiric ability.

Following the introduction, subsequent chapters focus on four features of Burns's satire: targets, vehicles, techniques, and alternatives. Analysis of his sa tiric pieces indicates that through­ out his career he attacks five major targets: insensitivity and intolerance that lead to unjust ; the hypocrisy of pre­ tensions; false pride; greed for power, money, and knowledge; incom­ petence that injures others. I I shows him employing six major vehicles in those poems composed both before and after August 1786: epistles, , dialogues, , , and Christis Kirk.

Throughout his writings, he illu s tra te s varying degrees of success at merging satiric to the distinctive features of each poetic form.

Chapter I I I examines his use of s a tiric devices. In order to place emphases, , and delineate individual flaws, he makes care­ ful use of these kinds of poetic techniques: — including juxtapositions, concrete , in some words, and iv syntactical arrangement of words; metrical features—encompassing rhyming, rhythmical, accentual, and alliterative patterns; and meta­ phorical --figures of drawn mainly from traditional and conrnon sources, such as the natural world, the kingdom, domestic concerns, and written learning. He illustrates both dex­ te rity and clumsiness in manipulating these techniques for s a tiric effects. Chapter IV examines the alternatives, or norms, which he offers in opposition to the vices and follies he attacks. Usually suggesting his affirmed values through indirection, Burns exposes his passionate cornnitment to broadly based humanitarian principles! in teg rity, tolerant compassion, evaluation of others by standards of mind and , brotherly love, independence in thought and .

This detailed study of Robert Burns's satires not only analyzes the attributes of a ll his s a tiric poems; i t also supports the theory that by August 1786, he had achieved the fullness, of his a b ility to use certain vehicles and techniques for s a tiric development and that he had conclusively enunciated targets for attacks and values for affirmation. Burns grew to full command of his satiric muse early in his career; neither consistent deterioration nor maturity as an is reflected in his later poems. This examination of Burns's satires thus accomplishes three ends: i t offers the fir s t fu ll and compre­ hensive view of the complete body of his satire; i t evaluates the excellence and mediocrity of the poems in comparison to one another; and it illustrates that Burns is one of those whose poetic maturity came early in his career, one to whom time and experience do not bring increased proficiency. INTRODUCTION

Although Robert Burns's poetry has been examined in over three thousand articles and , as well as in all surveys of Scottish lite ra tu re and , and although numerous biographies and editions of his poetry have been published, the body of his satirical poems^ has received only limited consideration. No has assessed his sa tiric achievement at length or examined the whole body of his s a tiric poetry. Some of the better known pieces--such as "Holy W illie's

Prayer," "Love and Liberty," "," "The Holy Fair," and "Tam o' Shanter"--receive a great deal of attention from various .

But the books usually merge discussions of the individual satires with studies of a large number of his non-satiric poems; articles limit themselves to analyses of one or a very few satires. Moreover, some of his s a tiric poetry has never been discussed by any c r itic . Although the poetry is indeed varied— some pieces excellent achievements, some poor, many uneven--the breadth of his s atiric accomplishments merits careful consideration. Furthermore, an examination of his satires indicates that the satiric pieces he wrote before August 1786 (when the Kilmarnock Edition was published) illu s tra te the range and depth of Burns's s a tiric achievements. The later (post-July 1786) pieces show no new techniques or targets or forms and do not, in general, exhibit Burns's increased s k ill in development; in fact, some of the later poems actually show a decrease in competency. By July 1786, then, he had either fully or seminally developed the satiric targets, forms, techniques, and alternatives that characterize all of his satiric poetry.

vi The fir s t chapter w ill examine Burns's s a tiric targets, the subjects and themes that permeate all his satires. His targets are the frailties (vices and follies) of character that are harmful and obnoxious both to the individual himself and to the public. He draws specific illustrations of these flaws from various individuals.

A number of local clerical leaders--such as Fisher, Auld, and Russell-- serve as the specific examples of arrogant pride, intolerance, hypo­ crisy, and oppressive denial of freedom. He finds in the British government and in local village ample illustrations of greed, sham, and incompetence. After he interacts with many of the aristo­ cracy, he attacks those who demonstrate haughtiness, lack of compassion, and false standards of judgment. But the point is not whom Burns names in his satires so much as what he attacks; individuals simply serve as the "historic particulars" without which satires cannot 3 really work. The qualities he satirizes can be viewed in five main categories: insensitivity and intolerance that lead to unjust oppression; the hypocrisy of pretensions; false pride; greed for power, money, and knowledge; incompetence that injures others. Burns attacks these tra its throughout his poetry. Examination of the con­ tents of the early and later poems shows that he does not grow fonder in time of these fra iltie s nor add new items to his li s t of targets.

The second chapter considers the vehicles that Burns uses to convey the attacks on flaws of character. He advances his satiric ideas in six major modes: epistles, monologues, dialogues, burlesques, songs, and Christis Kirk. His satiric epistles are informal, conver­ sational letters never totally satiric; but the thirteen letters vii contain passages of attack. He writes all except one to receptive whose approval he anticipates, usually employs the conversa­ tional qualities common to Standard Habbie, and makes his s a tiric tone clear. The ten epistles written by July 1786 represent the full­ ness of his competency and v ers a tility with that vehicle. Throughout his poetry he finds the to be a flexible instrument for satire; in later s a tiric monologues, however, he does not demonstrate significantly different techniques or additional effectiveness.

Some of the monologues are actually dramatic monologues in which the tension between the reader’s sympathy for the speaker and his judgment of him as well as the discrepancy between the reader's and speaker's understanding of a situation is essential for fu ll revela­ tion of Burns's theme. He uses the dialogue more infrequently—only three times. One of the early dialogues, "The Twa ," is far superior in dramatic credibility and structural cohesion to the only dialogue of the la te r group, "The Brigs of ." The paucity of examples and the construction of these dialogues support the theory that Burns preferred to state his view rather than to use a dialogue form to explore both sides of an issue before announcing a judgment.

Only slightly more common as a vehicle of satire are pieces—mock-, -, -, and -celebrations. Burns creates discrepancies between subject and so as to mock flaws and to ridicule the banality of other w riters' expressions. Although

Burns had a hand in the publication of over three hundred songs, only a few are satiric. Because of his careful ear and his ability to

v iii match ly ric and tune to best advantage, he is able to secure sa tiric effects from selecting tunes that bolster these techniques as well as personae, sounds, repetition, and to secure successful fusions of satiric attack and . The Christis Kirk form, last of the six vehicles, appears only among the early group. Creating special effectiveness is the disequilibrium between form (associated with secular celebrations) and content ("The Ordination" of a minister and "The Holy Fair," a revival). Each of the six vehicles has dis­ tinguishing characteristics that Burns is able to use to advantage when unfolding his charges. In later poems he makes no significant additions to his manipulation of each vehicle.

Chapter three examines Burns's control of the diction, meta­ phorical imagery, and metrics with which he develops his s a tiric points. Again, between the early and later poetry there is no note­ worthy increase in skill or v e rs a tility , nor does he alte r his basic approach to the use of these devices. In his satires Burns generally writes a Scots vernacular-standard English mixture. But he draws from other areas of language for juxtapositions that his point.

For instance, he mixes the language of aristocracy, vulgarisms, and idiomatic Scots, or he combines homely vernacular and Biblical phraseology--the effect is a reduction of some values or characteris­ tics because the language is inappropriate to the context. This kind of juxtaposition is a major structural pattern in some poems, such as "Holy W illie's Prayer," "Libel Summons," "Tam Samson's ," and

"Tam o' Shanter." In many poems i t is essential to Burns's satire of ix personae and to his disclosures of ironic reversal. He also takes advantage of the potentials in ambivalent diction; thus, an apparent word of praise may, because of its connotation or multiple denotations, become a point of . Burns's use of language that is especially specific and concrete helps him to indicate his tone, hold up personae to ridicule, and delineate other individuals' flaws. Thus he obtains desired emphases and revelations from the injection of ambiguous or concrete words. Sim ilarly, Burns in both early and later poems develops his themes by his use of syntax, a technique which helps him to identify a mocking tone, expose the personae's errors, and emphasize individual points of attack. Anti- is a principal tool, well adapted to the lines of Standard Habbie. Inversion of "normal" sentence order, insertion of imperatives and questions, and repeated function variously: to convey demeaning innuendoes by associating someone with an undesirable person or quality, to build cumulatively to a climactic charge, to manipulate vacillating tones, and to secure unity. Examination of Burns's rhyming, rhythmical, and alliterative patterns indicates that he understood the ways in which the "arrangements of sounds can intensify s a tiric concepts. Rhyming choices--masculine, feminine, and internal—allow him to establish his attitude, connect apparently disparate ideas, and characterize individuals he attacks. Similarly, he makes rhythmical patterns and variations in patterns place emphases on important ideas and create tones that coincide or with the content. He takes advantage of the ability of to stress similar and contrasting ideas, to modulate , to suggest auditory images that denigrate. The elements of prosody, then, help him to create appropriate tones and stresses and to produce ironically inappropriate conjunctions. The third major subdivision of chapter three considers Burns's use of metaphorical imagery. His imagery, dividable into four large cate­ gories-- that drawn from the natural environment, from , from human a c tiv ity (domestic concerns, business and commerce, war and government, and socializing), and written learning—mainly appears in b rie f phrases and lines. But sometimes, as in "The Twa Dogs,"

"The Holy Tulzie," and "The Calf," for instance, a pattern of imagery extends throughout the poem to create a dominant and contribute to structural coherence. These images serve his satire especially well when he lets suggest a demeaning association. He under­ stands the contributions that prosody, imagery, and diction make to satire as thoroughly in the early poems as in the later. The later poetry does not illustrate innovative variations or more organically functional diction, figures of speech, or sound effects. Both func­ tional and merely ornamental techniques appear in his satires but in no clear pattern based on time of .

The last chapter examines Burns's satiric alternatives. Burns is no n ih ilis t nor does he w rite in a vacuum; i t is in part because he values certain characteristics that he assails opposing qualities.

Those who harm others because of greed, indifference, and intolerance, those who affect feigned and principles, those who deny the human potential for goodness--by attacking these, he reveals his alternatives. Those alternatives, indirectly suggested in the satires and unequivocally asserted in a few satires and letters, include

several firm beliefs: evaluation of others according to mind and

character, brotherly and compassionate love for fellow , a

tolerant sympathy for others' weaknesses, a b ility and honesty in per­

formance of duties, the right to exercise independent choices free

of authoritarian or conventional rules, honest expression of thoughts

and emotions. Burns, in brief, that life in all its fullness

is to be enjoyed and that each of us has the capacity for goodness as well as happiness. He does not vary his commitment to these broad

principles any more than he ceases to attack vices and fo llie s . The later poems are no more passionate or clear in enunciating his affirmations than are the early satires,

Because statements in Burns's letters and events in his li f e occasionally reveal important information about his satiric purposes, they will be referred to when they elucidate the topic under discussion.

Primarily, however, the focus in this study falls on the early group of satires; the la te r group is viewed as subordinate, though they too must be discussed at some length i f are to see how few changes the later poems inaugurate. Throughout his career, the targets, forms, techniques, and alternatives that Burns develops in the early poems remain much the same.

Robert Burns has been subjected to so much study, criticism , and eulogy that i t scarcely seems possible to shed new lig h t on any single feature of his achievement. Yet, l i t t l e lig h t has heretofore illuminated his accomplishments in satire. The lack of a comprehen­ sive examination of his satires as a group leaves a major gap in our

xii understanding of Burns's poetic . By focusing on his satiric poems, without reference to the non-satiric poetry, we can more readily ascertain his skills as a satirist as well as construct a foundation for inquiries into other important questions about Burns's poetry. Without a careful analysis of the satires as a group, however, we are le ft with only a poem-by-poem approach (which numerous fu ll- length studies exemplify) that fails to relate the satires to each other in terms of targets, forms, or devices and that fa ils to evaluate his total s a tiric achievement. Furthermore, by focusing on those pieces Burns composed by the time of the Kilmarnock Edition, we learn that he demonstrates the fu ll breadth of his v e rs a tility and competence in the earlier satires. That is not to argue that he steadily deteriorates as a satirist or that he remains consistently the same.

But the la te r satires do not demonstrate increased s k ill resulting from maturity or enlarged experience. This, then, is a two-pronged study that produces the f ir s t comprehensive discussion of Burns's satires as a group and that illu strates how early Burns grew to fu ll command of his s a tiric muse. Because a specific discussion of the body of Burns's satires now exists, a foundation for further studies is supplied: consideration of the relationship between his satiric and non-satiric poetry; evaluation of his place as a satirist among other eighteenth-century British satirists and among all satirists; examination of the contributions of tradition and o rig in a lity to his s a tiric accomplishments. Because we now see that he attained mature s a tiric s k ill by late 1786, others can address themselves to a

x ii i significant question: Burns's growth as a . The ensuing dis­ cussion not only f i l l s a gap that has too long existed in Burns scholarship, but also opens the way for important contributions from studies.

xiv In this study the term s a tir e w ill be used to denote a method of treatment, a spirit existent within various modes; satire attacks human vices and fo llie s in order to expose them to punishment or reform. 2 Although the Kilmarnock Edition was published on July 31, 1786, Burns did not include in it all of the satires he had composed by then; thus I am avoiding the label "Kilmarnock Edition" and referring to these poems as the "early group" or "early poems" so that all that he composed before August, 1786 may be considered. "The la te r poems" or "later group" refers to those poems he wrote a fte r August-1786. 3 Edward W. Rosenheim, J r ., Swift and the S atirist's (: University of Chicago Press, 1963), p. 38, passim.


Read thematically, Burns's satires raise objections of a sort

that have often voiced against principal values and goals of

their times. He satirizes repressive strictures that deny independence

and natural instinct, the pursuit of money or power regardless of the

means, dishonorable use of authority, and pretensions assumed by those who desire a good reputation. Read topically, his satires appear to

be stages in a personal war against p o litical leadership, the Kirk

ministry, and the affluent. Viewing the early poems, we can see that

he mounted an intense satiric campaign against ecclesiastical figures

and the Calvinist system; to these persons and he looks again and again for specific illustrations of pride, pretension, intolerance, and repression. Although the p o litical arena provides few subjects for Burns's satire in the early poems, nevertheless we can see that

King George I I I , the Highland Society, Parliamentary laws, and Prime

Minister Fox exemplify greed, sham, incompetence, oppression. The mores and behavior of individuals not involved in Scottish politics or ecclesiasticism serve also as illustrations in Burns's satires. We can group the targets of his satiric attack into five categories:

intolerance and insensitivity that cause unjust oppression; the hypo­ crisy of pretensions; false pride; greed for money, power, and infor­ mation; and incompetence that abuses others. Of these fiv e groups, hypocrisy and oppression are the most prominent topics of Burns's satires. Within all five, ministers, Calvinism, politicians, the wealthy, the aristocracy, and ordinary citizens manifest these qualities and thus serve as the "historic particulars" for his s a tiric attacks. These topics comprise the targets in both his early and later satiric poems; Burns adds no new subjects for satires after

July 1786.

Insensitivity, even indifference, and intolerance are human failings that Burns satirizes in the early poems. He attacks them not so much for themselves as for what they lead to— unjust oppression of other people's beliefs, behavior, and basic rights. Himself an imperfect individual prone to woman-chasing, drinking, irreverent mockery, he asks that people view each other with compassionate eyes:

Let any of the strictest character for regularity of conduct among us, examine im partially how many of his virtues are owing to constitution and education; how many vices he has never been guilty of, not from any care or vigilance, but from want of opportunity, or some accidental circumstances, intervening; how many of the weakness's [s ic ] of mankind he has escaped because he was out of the of such temptation; and, what often, if not always, weighs more than a ll the rest; how much he is indebted to the World's good opinion, because the World does not know a ll: I say any man who can thus think, will scan the failings, nay the faults & crimes of mankind around him, with a brothers' [sic] eyeJ

Those who do not "scan the failings . . . the faults & crimes of mankind . . . with a brothers' eye" receive contemptuous denigra­ tion in "Address to the Unco Guid, or the Rigidly Righteous."

Speaking to "ye what are sae guid yoursel,/Sae pious and sae holy," he attacks their inflexible refusal to consider what causes differences 2 between themselves and the disreputable. Quick to condemn others, they are blind to their own lack of opportunity or to any extenuating 3 circumstances. The "unco guid" judge innervirtue byouter appear­ ances; akin to them are those attacked in "To Mr.John Kennedy":

Now if ye're ane o' warTs folk, Wha rate the wearer by the cloak An1 sklent on poverty their squint maliciously Wi' bitter sneer, Wi1 you no friendship I will troke deal for Nor cheap nor dear. (11.19-24)

Such narrow-minded people possess "the flin ty heart that canna feel"

("To Kennedy," 1.27). "Flinty" lords of estates, lacking sensitivity 3 to the needs of their tenants, impose harsh treatment. Ceasar [s ic ], in "The Twa Dogs," questions why servants, dog-keepers, and the gar­ bage pail receive fine food while the tenants are "negleket,/How huff'd, an' cuff'd, an' disrespeket" (11.61-70, 87-88). The lords' oppression crushes the tenants' self-respect and dignity:

Poor tenant-bodies, scant o' cash, How they maun thole a f a c t o r 's snash; endure; abuse H e'll stamp an' threaten, curse an' swear, H e'll apprehend them, p o in d their gear, seize and sell their While they maun stand, wi' aspect humble, gpgds An' hear i t a ', an' fear an' tremble! (11.95-100)

When the aristocracy even deny freedom of movement to th eir fellow

Scots, Burns lashes them. "Address of Beelzebub" attacks the Highland

Society and the government for their of five hundred 5 Highlanders' plan to emigrate to Canada. Burns indicates in a scathing preface his opinion of such injustice: "the HIGHLANDERS

. . . were so audacious as to attempt an escape from theire lawful lords and masters whose property they are by emigrating . . . in search of that fantastic thing--LIBERTY." He assails the nobility for denying the basic necessities to the impoverished and weakened

Highlanders: 4

. . . what right hae they To Meat, or Sleep, or lig h t o' day, Far less to riches, pow'r, or freedom, But what your lordships PLEASE TO GIE THEM? (11.27-30)

More commonly, however, than the Scottish Establishment's oppression of the poor, his s a tiric target is what Burns censures in the "unco guid": repression and bigotry that are encouraged by the teachings of the Kirk. He finds within Calvinism numerous examples as well as cause of repression. Because Calvinism takes particular views of sex, hereditary depravity, predestination, Hell,

God, the Devil, and good works, in Burns's eyes the Kirk, a potent arm of oppression, is an appropriate s a tiric subject. Three things apparently provide impetus to his belittlement: the Kirk imposed on

Burns fines and several sessions on the cutty stool; the Kirk cen­ sured Burns's friend, , for triv ia l offenses; perhaps most important, Burns viewed humans as innately good, God as a bene- C ficient Father, and fleshly needs as natural.

Rejecting Calvinism's beliefs in original sin, inherited depravity, and predestination, he mocks these concepts, as in "," in which the Fall from Paradise is just a mischievous trick:

Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog! latch or bar Ye cam to Paradise incog, An' 'd on man a cursed brogue, tric k or hoax (Black be your f a '!) An' gied the infant warld a shog, jog or shock 'Maist ruin'd a'! (11.91-96)

The concept of predestination is absurd: 5

But fare you weel, auld Niekie-benl 0 wad ye tak a thought an1 men1! Ye aiblins might--I dinna ken-- perhaps S till hae a stake-- I'm wae to think upo1 yon den, Ev'n for your sake. (11.121-26)

Holy W illie 's to o -lite ra l understanding of predestination mocks the whole theory. Burns especially underlines the immoral absurdities of

Calvinism when W illie describes his anthropomorphic concept of God— a malicious, spiteful, vengeful, unjust, unfair, stupid, unforgiving


Related to the Calvinist concepts of predestination and total depravity is the b elie f that anything done by an unregenerate person is sinful and is displeasing to God. That idea receives attack most pointedly in "Dedication to Hamilton":

Y e 'll get the best o' moral works, 'Mang black Gentoos, and Pagan T u rks, Hindus Or Hunters wild on P o n o ta xi, volcano in Ecuador Wha never heard of Orth_d_xy. (11.41-44)

The Kirk, of course, preached that the terrors of Satan and Hell await the unregenerate sinner (more lik e ly him who openly commits immoral acts than him who gives the impression of righteous piety).

Repudiating those teachings, Burns creates Satan as "Auld Hornie . . .

Nick, or Clootie," a tric k s te r, maybe redeemable; the view proffered in "Address to the Deil" mocks the Kirk's depiction of Satan as the embodiment of all evil, as a vitally potent force for eternal destruction. Burn's "Clootie" contrasts to Holy W illie's picture of

Satan and Hell: Thou [God] might hae plunged me deep in h e ll, To gnash my gooms, and weep, and w ail, In burning lakes, Where damned devils roar and yell Chain'd to their stakes. — (11.20-24)

Mocking the conventional picture of Hell,^ Burns is also belittling

the tactics of the evangelical, fire-and-brimstone preachers:

A vast, unbottom1d, boundless P it , F ill'd fou o' Iowan bvunstane. blazing Whase raging flame, an1 scorching heat, Wad melt the hardest whunstane! The half-asleep start up wi' fear, An' think they hear i t roaran, When presently i t does appear, 'Twas but some neebor snovan Asleep that day. ("The Holy Fair," 11.190-93)

The Kirk generally depended on threats of Hell and Satan as a way to enforce its rules against carousing, drinking, and fornicating—

the sins of the flesh. By laughing at the ministers' depiction of

Hell and the Devil, Burns attacks the Kirk's attempts to circumscribe sensual pleasures. In "Dedication to Hamilton" he b e little s the

Kirk's hostility to the carnal:

The GENTLEMAN in word and deed, It's no through terror of D_mn_t n; It's just a carnal inclination. T il-46-48)

The Kirk's threatened punishments he labels "Naething" ( "Extempore— to

Gavin Hamilton," 11.41-44), He satirically indicts the Kirk's dictums about fornication by constructing a court of equity, parallel to the

Kirk Session, in which duplicity is punished but fornication is praised ("Libel Summons"), He puts fornicators on "our noble lis t ," and pronounces the Kirk's punishment fu tile ; not only did "my vows

[begin] to scatter" while he stood before the congregation but that 7 evening he committed the same "sin" ("The Fornicator," 11.47,22). He mocks the impact of the Kirk's punishment by insisting that the only penalty that might prevent his fornication is gelding ("Reply to a

T ailo r").

Making ecclesiastical leaders' harsh treatment of supposed sinners seem even more unjust is the fact that these professed

Christians are intolerant of and even malicious toward other religious Q sects. Ministers are too prorie to "damn a' Parties but your own"

("Dedication to Hamilton," 1.64). Burns mocks these internal ecclesiastical disputes:

Some quarrel the presbyter gown, Some quarrel Episcopal graithing, vestments But every good fellow w ill own Their quarrel is all about--naething.--( "Extempore--to Hamilton," 11.17-20)

Verbal quarrelling about parish boundaries ("Holy Tulzie") and about two factions' ("To William Simpson— Postscript") generates phy­ sical abuse:

He [Russell] fine a maingie sheep could scrub, And nobly swing the Gospel-club; Or New-light Herds could nicely drub, And pay their skin; flog Or hing them o'er the burning dub, pool Or shute them in. ("The Holy Tulzie," 11.43-48) Q The Auld Lichts oppress the New Lichts by chasing them with "the n in e -ta il'd cat," torturing them on a rope, and even beheading them

("The Ordination," 11.93,114-17).

Labelled hopeless sinners by the Kirk and misfits by society, the beggars in "Love and Liberty" contradict the behavior approved by the law, the social order, the business world, Calvinist dogma, the 8

unco guid, and the aristocracy. Burns describes the fiddler's casual

use of the 's woman; the camp follower's promiscuity, for which

she expresses no shame or regret; and the older woman's a ffa ir with a highwayman, for which she makes no apology (11.190-93,57-80,89-116).

The Kirk's and society's rules of moral and proper behavior are flaunted, as is the sacrament of marriage: the tinker vows loyalty to his woman by swearing on a tankard of whiskey (1.177). The bard declares "I hold i t s till/A mortal sin to thraw [deny or frustrate] that [sexual desire]" (11,222-23). In the final song, state their opinion of the world of respectability and propriety:

What is TITLE, what is TREASURE, What is REPUTATION'S care? If we lead a life of pleasure, 'Tis no matter HOW or WHERE.

Here's to BUDGETS, BAGS and WALLETS! Here's to a ll the wandering train! Here's our ragged BRATS and CALLETS! One and all cry out, AMEN! A fig for those by LAW protected, LIBERTY’S a glorious feast! COURTS for Cowards were erected, CHURCHES built to please the Priest. (11.258-61,274-81)

Through the beggars' words and deeds Burns sums up his repudiation of social and ecclesiastical strictures against carnal desires.

In Burns's la te r poetry, he continues to make oppression a major target of his satire. In a variety of poems he attacks po li­ tical and religious factions that treat opponents spitefully, govern­ ment leaders who oppress commoners by their war-mongering, and Calvinism's incompassionate view of human fa ilin g s . The Kirk's intolerance of carnal sins appears especially harsh when "The Kirk of 's Garland" exposes internal factions' malice toward each other. threatened by an opponent, the Auld Lichts seize their "spiritual guns" and lead a pack against him so that they may stretch him on a rack (11.18,28,6). The Auld Lichts take so narrow a view of their divine function that even a merging of fa ith and sense is heresy

(11.8-9). Also, the focus of some later satires falls on factions within the government and political leaders' indifference to the desires of their constituents for peace and freedom. Although the

French Revolution brought the "tree of liberty" to fru itio n , no such tree grows in England; i t "cannot be found,/Twixt London and the

Tweed" ("The Tree of Liberty," 1 1 .6 3 -6 4 ).^ Leaders who in itia te war brutally oppress the common people, for the la tte r pay with lives and property.^ "Logan Water" invokes "wae upon you, Men o' S tate,/

That brethren rouse in deadly hate!" (11.25-26). These same "Great

Men" are condemned in "When Princes and Prelates." Rather than s tirrin g up war, as the Duke of Brunswick, King Frederick William I I , and Catherine I I do, he suggests they "spend" creatively in "Mowe"


"Mowe" is the basic topic of The M erry o f C aledonia, a 12 collection of poems notable for their bawdiness; but in some, the bawdiness serves to sa tirize basic Calvinist dogma and the Kirk's repression of sexual appetites. In "Case of Conscience" a female whig seeks her minister's advice on how to restrain her sexual drive.

Burns reveals his satire in the illogic of the minister's explanation that sexual desire is "naught but Beelzebub's a r t,/ But that's the 10

mair sign of a saunt"; that good works and are irrelevant, for

only sound and orthodox Faith matters; that the woman is Elect, so

nothing she does w ill change that "Eternal Decree" (11.17-18,21-24,

29-32). The speaker in "They Took Me to Haly Band" indicates the

uselessness of sermonizing against the demands of lust:

"What dee! need a' this cla tte r; "As lang as she cou'd keep the grip "I aye wgs m g at her." (11.6-8)

Completely demolishing the Kirk's case against carnal pleasures, "

Sedurant of the Session" explains the law against fornicators:

"standing pr_cks are fauteors [fa u lts ] a',/And guilty of a high

transgression" (11.3-4). For this transgression the offender must

lie in "dungeons deep ,/Ilk lass has ane in her possession" until they

"wail and weep" (11,9-11). 3

In "Tam o' Shanter" Burns lets his narrator state the Kirk's

preachments against drunken merrymaking:

But pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow fa lls in the riv e r, A moment white--then melts for ever; Or like the borealis race, That flit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow's lovely form Evanishing amid the storm.--(11.59-66)

As Crawford notes, this passage points to the poem's theme: "the relationship between Pleasures (condemnedin toto by Calvinism and

in part by the business world) and the Devil and Art and , for 14 whom 'Energy is Eternal D elight,"' The narrator, however, cannot maintain his pose as an "unco guid," for he too confesses attraction to naked females and cheers the inebriated Tam's escape. Burns n ridicules the Kirk's threat that "the Devil will carry you off to Hell" by showing that only Meg's ta il is taken. Mocked also, as Troutner notes, is "anyone who would think that inebriation and carousing are folly for a man who can find his eyes 'enriched' after drinking, while 15 remaining sober enough to spur his horse home at the crucial moment."

As i f to emphasize the f u t ilit y of Kirk threats, Burns sets the memorable confrontation in a churchyard pre-empted by and devils, lechery and uninhibited festivity.

Not only oppressive intolerance and insensitivity evoke Burns's satiric attacks. He also sees that the Establishment, by praising those who project an image of righteousness and by condemning the honest sinner, encourages professions of spurious moral virtues, intellectual capacity, social status, and emotional fervor. The hypocrisy of pretensions is clearly one of Burns's principal topics for satire; he perceives incisively the gap between appearance and re a lity .

Burns's most memorable embodiment of an unctuously pious hypo­ crite is Holy Willie, the main character in one of the early poems.

Praying to his God, W illie speaks with assurance of his own sal­ vation, his Election, Burns indicts the Calvinist doctrine of elec­ tion by showing the hypocrisy caused in one who thinks himself chosen.

Willie self-righteously vows,

. . . what zeal I bear, When drinkers drink, and swearers swear, And singin' there, and dancin' here, Wi' great an' sma'; For I am keopet by thy fear, Free frae them a'.--("Holy Willie's Prayer," 11.31-36) 12

Yet he confesses to fornicating with Meg and with Leezie's lass,

lapses he excuses on the grounds that he was drunk; in fact, he admits

"at times I'm fash'd [afflicted] wi' fleshly lust" but suggests such

failings are God's predestined plan since God created people as

"dust,/Defil'd wi' sin" (11.38,41-42). Christian love and forgiveness seem foreign to him. He p e ttily demands that God curse Hamilton's

"basket and his store,/K ail and potatoes" (11.77-78); then, as i f his and God's cause are one, he demands,

Thy strong right hand, L d, make i t bare Upon th e ir heads! L d v is it them, and dinna spare, For their misdeeds! (11.81-84)

His professed Christian faith brings to W illie no strength in times of stress: "My very heart and flesh are quaking/To think how I sat, sweating, shaking,/And p_ss‘d w i' dread" (11.86-88). Despite his claims to Christian virtue, W illie shows no piety, acceptance of God's w ill, moral worth, or contrition.

The lack of such qualities in some participants in "The Holy

Fair" is signalled by the presence of Hypocrisy (along with and

Superstition). Some at the religious do indeed come for pious reasons, but some are busy "winkan on the lasses," thinking "up' their claes," "forming assignations/To meet some day," and commenting on "this ane's dress, an' that ane's leuk" (11.89,84,179-80,176). The admixture of atmosphere, flir tin g , praying, drinking, preach­ ing, and celebrating communion suggests a discrepancy between what people do and what the Kirk thinks they should do. Here, however,

Burns is not attacking hypocrisy so much as he is satirizing the Kirk's rules that create the hypocrisy. Pretensions to piety and moral worth are targets of attack

not only in "Holy W illie 's Prayer" and "The Holy Fair," but also in

many other poems. "Epistle to Rankin" voices b itte r attack:

Think, wicked Sinner, wha ye're skaithing: harming It 's ju st the Blue-gown badge an1 cl aithing, O' Saunts; tak that, ye lea'e them naething, To ken them by, From ony unregenerate Heathen, Like you or I. (11.19-24)

Especially angering Burns is that these pretentious ministers use

their claims to piety as an excuse to harass self-admitted sinners:

They [ministers] take in their mouth; They talk o' mercy, grace an' truth, For what?--to gie their malice skouth scope On some pui r wight, An' hunt him down, o'er right an' ruth, To ruin streight. ("To the Rev. John M'Math," 11.55-60)

With "rotten, hollow hearts," these clerics use "jugglin' hocus pocus

/To cheat the crowd" and "under gospel colors hid be/Just for a

screen" (11.39-42,47-48), The outer show of "sighan, cantan, grace-

prood faces" hides "their raxan [fle x ib le ] conscience,/Whase greed,

revenge, an' pride disgraces/Waur nor their " (11.20-24).

Not only ministers call themselves devout believers yet behave maliciously and thoughtlessly:

No--stretch a point to catch a plack; get money Abuse a Brother to his back; Steal thro' the winnoek frae a wh_re, But point the that takes the door* Be to the Poor lik e onie whunstane, And haud their noses to the grunstane; Ply ev'ry art o' le g a l thieving; No matter--stick to sound believing. ("Dedication to Hamilton, 11.53-60) These "pious" believers act hypocritically, encourage others to feign I £ virtue, and separate b e lie f from act. The la tte r is one of Burns's

principal objections to Calvinism; and good works remain separated. Burns mocks this simulated piety in "The Libel Summons," where he praises fornication but condemns those who hide th eir actions

in Burns's court, the moral coward who w ill not confess his sins is

the one to receive punishment. "The Fornicator," in which Burns admits a feigned repentance ("with rueful face and of grace"), suggests that others who are punished also merely fake penitence. He blames, at least in part, the Kirk's insistence that profession and appearance of righteousness imply Election. Burns indicates, in opposition, that a veneer of piety disguises malicious pursuit of sinners, creates inequities, and proscribes honesty.

Pretensions to social status are less harshly satirized, per­ haps because such sham causes less harm to others and to one's s e lf.

In "To a Louse" Burns emphasizes the temerity of a "crowlan fe rlie " :

"How daur ye set your fit upon her,/Sae fine aL a d y l" (11.9-10).

The louse belongs naturally on some "beggar's haffet" or "on an auld w ife's flainen toy [flannel cap];/0r aiblins [perhaps] some bit duddie boy" but not on a lady’s bonnet (11.13,32-33). Burns's last words expose Jenny's sham and offer a solution to social pretensions:

0 wad some Pow'r the g iftie gie us To see oursels as others see J us It wad frae monie a blunder free us An' foolish notion: What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us, And ev'n Devotion! 15

Although feigned knowledge and sentiment are rarely his targets,

Burns does occasionally sa tirize these two kinds of hypocrisy. In

" and Doctor Hornbook" the self-described doctor, educated as a schoolteacher, has convinced others of his medical expertise. But theuntrained doctor is harmful to others:

"Where I [Death] kill'd ane, a fair strae-death, natural death "By loss o' blood, or want o' breath, "This night I'm free to tak my a ith , "That Hornbook's s kill "Has clad a score i' their last cl aith, "By drap and p ill." (11.145-50)

Burns also ridicules a person's pretense of knowing what is desirable for another person's li f e . For example, he describes a dying mother who "leavi'e[s] . . „ her blessings," asks her children "to be kind to ane anither" and hopes that the son w ill learn good manners, that he w ill not ruin his feet, and that he w ill be content with the females nearby; she also advises them to consort with friends of good character and requests that they never plunder or steal food ("The Death and

Dying Words of Poor Mai lie ," 11.35-37,45-49,55-60). By making M ailie, a sheep, deliver these words to a h a lf-w it (the listener in the poem),

Burns satirizes conventional and hackneyed advice. In a similar vein, "A Dream" the birthday written by Thomas Warton,

Poet Laureate; Burns mocks Warton's faked joy and the fa ls ity of poets' praises of King George Ill's "greatness" (11.14-17).

Obviously, Burns is most frequently satirizin g simulated piety and moral superiority rather than pretensions to intellectual know­ ledge, , or social rank. Among several possible explanations for this emphasis, two spring instantly to mind. People who feign 16 moral worth are more prevalent in Burns's environment than those who

pretend to a high social rank or much wisdom. Pretended moral super­

io rity is, furthermore, more harmful to one's own soul and to one's

fellow man than the follies of pretending to elevated social status.

Although in the la te r poems Burns continues to emphasize hypo­

crisy as a main topic of his satires, the type of pretense he most

often attacks is feigned virtue. Less frequently satirized, as is

true for the early poems, are foolish pretenses to emotions not fe lt

and to a b ilitie s not possessed. Whereas in "A Dream" Burns mocks

the poet who wrote a glowing tribute to the king, in the la te r group

he mocks a ly ric 's depiction of love. A paraphrase of "Ode

to Spring" makes i t sound quite conventional; amid the glory of green

foliage, dewy glens, singing birds, and redolent fragrances, Damon and Sylvia make love. But Burns quickly reveals his mockery, as in

these lines:

There Damon lay, with Sylvia gay, To love they thought no crime, Sir; The wild-birds sang, the echoes rang, While Damon's a_se beat time, Sir. (11.13-16)

"Tam Samson's Elegy" also mocks false sentiment, though not so bawdily.

Burns is not satirizing Tam but the overblown despair and praise that often appear in elegies. Writing of a man who did not die until nine years after Burns wrote the poem, Burns reverses the conventional formula that "all Nature mourns" and excessively praises the dead man's talents (despite two 'fatal' heart attacks Tam s till manages with his 'dying' shot to kill five deer). 17

In the la te r poems, however, Burns most often b e little s feigned piety and virtue. He repeatedly satirizes ministers who profess devotion and moral probity. "Errock Brae" describes a woman's en­ counter with a Cameronian who flings aside his while "the solemn league and covenant/He laid below my a_se"(l1.14-16). In praise of this ecclesiastical leader, the woman says

A Prelate he loups on before, leaps A Catholic behin', But gie me a Cameronian, He'll m_w a body blin'. (11.25-28)

Counseling with a woman confessing her sexual desires, a Priest con<- eludes the session by physically easing her sexual frustrations

("Case of Conscience"). Burns does not hesitate to name specific religious leaders whom he judges guilty of hypocrisy, such as Holy

W illie whose character has not improved:

Holy Will, Holy Will, there was i' your skull, When ye p ilfe r'd the alms o' the poor; The trimmer is scant, when ye're ta'en for a saint, Wha should swing in a rape for an hour. . . . ("The Kirk of Scotland's Garland," 11. 66-69)

With ministers such an example, i t seems only natural 17 that members of the community feign virtues just as frequently.

Burns accuses Maria Riddell of adultery and lechery; she has a "rotten heart" and her poetry is "the idiot strum of vanity bemused" ("Esopus to Maria," 11,22-26,48,53,72), Lacking wisdom and goodness, she w ill lie in her grave "a prey to insulting Neglect" ("Monody on Maria,"

11.21-24). Yet Maria feigns chastity, poetic skill, and virtue. She is not much better than "godly" G irzie, who, on a "haly" night after 18 a "haly" day, "was [so] fa in t w i' haly work," she had no strength to deny the man she encountered:

But ay she glower'd up to the moon, And ay she sigh'd most piouslie; "I trust my heart's in heaven aboon, "Whare'er your sinfu' p e be." ("Godly G irzie," 11.13-16)

The two main topics in all of his satiric poetry interrelate.

Hypocrisy reinforces oppressive policies; trying to avoid oppression, many pretend to virtues or a b ilitie s they lack. Burns sees also how often the hypocrite succeeds in convincing himself of his worth and swells with pride. Pride in one's a b ilitie s or behavior is not in itself a vice; often the pride is merited. But when appears in one who only pretends to admirable deeds and capabilities, then

Burns turns his attack on . Such undeserved pride com­ prises the third target of his satire.

By reexamining Holy W illie we can see the reciprocation of hy­ pocrisy and pride. When Willie speaks of his own Election, he boasts:

I bless and praise thy matchless might, When thousands thou has le f t in night, That I am here before thy sight, For gifts and grace, A burning and a shining lig h t To a' this place.--(11.7-12)

Even his expressions of humility are tinged with smug arrogance. He asserts that he deserves damnation while wondering why he is exalted, but any modesty is overwhelmed by his egocentric assumption that he . is saved. Even when he informs God of Hamilton's sins, we can denote the arrogance in this man who seems to have forgotten that God is a ll- knowing. There is nothing but pride in the terms by which he de­ scribes himself: 19

I'm here, a p illa r o' thy temple Strong as a rock, A guide, a ruler and example To a' thy flock.--(11.27-30)

Burns satirizes not only a person's pride in his presumed

spiritual superiority but also unwarranted pride in knowledge, moral

character, and social position. I t is Jenny's pride in her new

bonnet that makes her toss her head around, thus accelerating the

louse's movement and allowing everyone to see her fakery. The

sisters of the bride are proud of the attire that they think denotes a high social rank (" Wedding," 11.26-30). Even those who

in fact belong to the upper class reek with pride as if clothing and money make them superior people:

. . . the paughty, feudal Thane, Wi' r u ffl'd sark an' glancin cane, Wha thinks himsel nae sheepshank bane, one of no l i t t l e But lordly stalks, importance While caps ah' bonnets a ff a re ta e n , As by he walks? ("Second Epistle to Lapraik," 11.67-72)

Burns satirizes "doctor" Hornbook as much for conceit as he does for sham. This "self-conceiteri sot" enjoys being called "doctor" and being surrounded by equipment and potions with names (11.177,


In la te r poems Burns mocks unwarranted vanity in "godly" 18 G irzie, "godly" Leezie Lundie, Maria Riddell, and Mrs. Oswald.

Burns unleashes b itte r attack on Mrs. Oswald, who he said haughtily

inconvenienced him one night{Letters, 1,295-96). To punish her pompous arrogance, he slanders her physical appearance, her lack of compassion, and her greed. His of her leaves us unable to find cause for her vanity; she even goes to hell "unpitied

and unblest" (lol5)c As the paucity of examples indicates, Burns,

although he satirizes pride, does not denigrate this fr a ilty of

human nature as frequently as he belittles other failings. When he

does satirize pride, he interlinks it with pretense and usually

attacks harshly and bitterly.

Sometimes interacting with pride is the fourth moral weakness

that Burns satirizes: greed for money, power, or knowledge. Often

the rapacious act as i f any means ju s tify the end and then have the

gall to boast proudly of their financial or intellectual accomplish­ ments. Most often Burns condemns avarice, perhaps because he lacked economic security or because he saw that when money arrives, kind­ ness, understanding, and courtesy frequently disappear:

Awa ye selfish, warly race, worldly Wha think that havins, sense an1 grace good manners Ev'n love an' friendship should give place To oatch-the-plackl money-grubbing ("Epistle to Lapraik," 11.115-18)

The money-grubber devotes himself to a fu tile expenditure of energy:

Poor Centum per centum may fast, And grumble his hurdles their claithing; things H e'll find, when the balance is cast, He's gane to the devil for--naething,--("Extempore—Hamilton, 11.9-12)

Despite such warnings, money motivates human actions, even a groom's:

Ae morning quondam Mason Will „ . . Gaed down to meet w i' Nansie Bell And her Jamaica s ille r , s ilver To wed, that day.--("Mauchline Wedding," 11.5-9)

And Holy W illie desires money as a boon to his ego, for he is taught by Calvinism that financial success signifies God's favor. 21

Burns's most expansive attack on avarice appears in "The Twa

Dogs" in which Luath avers,

There's monte a creditablestock O' decent, honest, fawsont folk, respectable Are riven out baith root an' branch, broken up Some rascal's pridefu’ greed to quench (11,141-44)

Possession of wealth might, of course, lead to good deeds as Luath suggests (11.147-48); but that possibility is repudiated when Ceasar describes how the rich use their money:

At an' Plays parading, Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading: Or maybe, in a fro lic daft, To HAGUE or CALAIS takes a waft, seatrip To make a t o w an' take a w hirl, To learn to n an’ see the worl'. (11,153-58;also 11.159-68) 19 Those who worship Mammon do so for their selfish needs. Burns ascribes no generous or self-sacrificing motives or deeds to W illie, the lords, Master W ill, and Centum by Centum. He treats each harshly, exposing their avarice to our contemptuous . Just as harmful to the general public is greed for power, because, as

Burns shows in "Author's Cry and Prayer," some abdicate principle in search for political favors (11.25-27), He reserves much gentler chiding for the peasants in "" who covet information about their future spouses; their reliance on as a way to secure that knowledge is foolish, but certainly neither vicious nor malignant.

Greed as a target of satire appears less frequently in later poems. Burns blames Scotland's loss of fame, glory and name (in the

1707 Union) on rogues who sold out "for hireling tra ito rs ' wages"

("Such a Parcel of Rogues," 1.12). He attacks the "harpy, hoodock 22

[plundering, rapacious] purse-proud" who look on "POORTITH as dis­ grace" ("Epistle to Logan," 11,37-42). In "Buy Braw Troggin" and

"The F£te Champetre" he satirizes political candidates' willingness to trade principles for cash (1 Ll-4;11.9-14). He has not totally abandoned greed as a topic but certainly pays minimal attention to this subject.

Burns gives more emphasis to a fifth target. He sees that one might sate his excessive appetite for wealth and power by securing an o ffic ia l position in the government or Kirk. Noting the dishonest methods by which some attain positions of authority and the extent of those persons' incapable rule and shameful a c tiv itie s , Burns satirizes incompetent and dishonorable actions by members of the Scottish Establishment. All of his satires mentioning religious leaders reveal that the ecclesiasts lack the spiritual and moral a b ility to perform their duties. The teachings of C hristianity are perverted by the ministers' hypocrisy, arrogance, intolerance, injustice, and repression. But it is in the political realm that

Burns most frequently discerns treachery, fraud, and incompetence.

Several letters express a about politicians that is echoed in his satires. For example, he defines politics as "a wherewith, by means of nefarious cunning, & hypocritical pretence, we govern c iv il Politics for the emolument of ourselves & our adherents"

( L e tte rs , 1 1 ,1 4 9 ),^ 21 An especially incompetent king, George I I I , is obvious prey.

Burns chides the king for mishandling the American colonies: Your ro y a l n e s, t beneath Your wing, Is e'en right reft an' clouted, And now the third part o' the string, An' less, w ill gang about i t . . . . ("A Dream," 11.32-35)

He condemns George's harsh taxation of the commoners, his misuse of public funds, and his poor judgment in selecting counselors:

Ye've trusted 'Ministration, To chaps, wha, in a barn or b y re , Wad better fill'd their station Than c o u rts yon day. (11.42-45;11.56,61-63)

Indirectly attacking the king, Burns ridicules Charles Fox for inca­ pable management of his post; the cause of Fox's weakness, Burns indicates, is not lack of talent, but lack of attentiveness to his duty. Fox is much too enraptured with "his dicing box,/An1 sportin lady" to do mere than "taunt [opponents] . . . w i1 his jeers an' 2? mocks" ("Author's Cry and Prayer," 11.110,113-14). Burns also chastizes Scots Members of who are not performing the duties for which they were elected; he urges them to remember princi­ ple, withstand pressures, and overcome fear ("Author's Cry and

Prayer," 11.31- 32,25-26,135-36,182),

In later poems Burns particularizes his satiric attacks by b e littlin g not just the king and his ministers but also Advocates, local candidates for o ffic e , patrons, and council members. The ta r­ gets, however, are the same: inability to function and dishonorable methods. He ridicules William P itt and Charles Fox:

In vain with Squire Billy for laurels you struggle, H e'll have them by fa ir trade, i f not, he w ill smuggle; Not cabinets even of kings would conceal 'em, He'd up the back-sta^rs and by G he would steal 'em! Then feats like Squire Billy's you ne'er can atchieve 'em, It is not, outdo him, is, outthieve him.--("Sketch to Fox, 11.45-50) Burns turns sim ilar mockery on two advocates who function poorly. The

Lord Advocate, often losing his train of thought, argues in a

"declamation-mist"; Erskine delivers words "like wind-driv'n hail" or "torrents owre a lin "; the judge is "half-wauken'd" by a ll the noise ("Extempore, in Court of Sessions," 11.3,13-14,16). The Faculty of Advocates is too stupid or too dishonest to elect a man of m erit, for "The more incapacity they [candidates].bring,/The more they're to your liking" ("Dean of the Faculty," 11.33-40). Burns describes

Robert Dundas, newly elected dean, as stupid, dishonest, and in a rti­ culate (11.11-12,21-24,31-32).

Equally repugnant was the Duke of Queensberry, principal land owner in . Burns calls the Duke a "Renegado," a "flaming

Zealot," "a mustering faggot" at the Whigs' "mysterious orgies," a

"character of which one cannot speak with patience" (L e tte r s, 1,371).

Burns exposes the Duke's lack of honor and by indiciting, him for cowardice, for devoting his energies to "the all-important cares/Of fiddles, whjres and hunters," and for serving himself but never the public ("Laddies by the Banks of Nith," "Epistle to Robert

Graham"). He finds ample illustration of similar failings in candi­ dates for local office. He indicts one group for their "rank repro­ bation of character, the utter dereliction of all principle, in a profligate junto, which has not only outraged virtue, but violated common decency . . . spurning even hypocrisy as paltry iniquity below their daring ..." {L e tte rs , 11,292). In these candidates he per­ ceives stupidity, toadying to the powerful, unused consciences, lying, 25

and thieving ("Second Heron ," "Johnie B's ," "Buy Braw

Troggin"). Burns credits neither former nor current council members

with much sense. The current members are "staumrel, corky-headed,

graceless Gentry,/The herryment and ruin of the country"; but the

former councilors were equally poor:

Nae mair the Council waddles down the street, In all the pomp of ignorant conceit. . . . I f haply Knowledge, on a random tramp, Had shor'd them with a glimmer of his lamp, And would to Common-sense for once betray'd them, Plain, dull Stupidity stept kindly in to aid them. ("Brigs of Ayr," 11. 170-71,184- 91)

For all such "public servants" Burns offers a prayer:

Lord, send a rough-shod troop o' h e ll, O'er a', wad Scotland buy, or sell, And grind them in the mire!!! ("Epistle to Graham," 11.124-26)

Thus, in a ll spheres of government and public service Burns finds

specific individuals who illustrate dishonesty and incompetency.

Although Burns varies the specific persons, act, and words,

all of his satiric poetry attacks five frailties of human nature:

dishonest and incapable management of a position of authority;

greed for riches, power, and status; inflated pride in abilities

or possessions; hypocritical pretense to non-existent tra its ; unfair

oppression of others because of in sen sitivity, indifference, and

intolerance. The early poems demonstrate his recurrent use of these

topics for satires; the same topics reappear in later poems, in which he introduces no new satiric targets. Furthermore, these

frailties exist in all of his satires both as vice and folly. Jenny acts unwisely, Tam shows lack of sensible foresight, and Fox in­ advisedly neglects his job. Such follies Burns mocks gently, in poems pervaded by gaiety and good humor. In contrast, his tone is

Juvenalian when he examines the corrupt, depraved, and evil--such as the immoral clerics, the malicious W illie, the spiteful Mrs.

Oswald and Maria Riddell. The la tte r group, themselves eager to damn others for imperfections, impair the workings of society and damage the lives and reputations of their fellow humans. In "Man Was Made to Mourn" Burns sums up the general target o f his satires:

And Man, whose heav'n-erected face, The smiles of love adorn, Man's inhumanity to Man Makes countless thousands mourn! (11.53-56) 27

R ob ert B u rn s' Commonplace 1783-85, facsimile eds. James Cameron Ewing and Davidson Cook (1938; rpt. Carbondale: Southern Press, 1965), p. 7. p Robert Burns, "Address to the Unco Guid," in The Poems and Songs o f Robert Burns* ed. James Kinsley, I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), 11. 1-2. Hereafter, unless otherwise noted, a ll references are to volumes I and II of this work and are cited by t i t l e and line numbers; a ll glosses come also from Kinsley's glossary. 3 Children seem unaware of class distinctions but an adult soon acquires "that proper, decent, unnoticing disregard for the poor, insignificant, stupid devils, the mechanics and peasantry around him . . ." (Robert Burns, Letters of Robert Bums, ed. J. DeLancey Ferguson, I (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931), 107. Here­ after all references to Burns's letters are cited by title, volume, and page.). See also L e tte r s, I, 246 about the "bloated Minions of Heaven" and L e tte r s, II, 164-65. 4 Burns says he would rather face Satan "than crawl in, a dust- licking Petitioner, before the lofty presence of a Mighty Man, & bear, amid all the mortifying pangs of Self-annihilation, the swell­ ing consequence of his d_mn'd State, & the cold monosyllables of his hollow heart" (L e tte r s, II, 41). See also L e tte r s, I , 244, where he comments on "how wretched is the man that hangs on & by the favors of the Great"; in L e tte r s, I I , 78 he describes the pain of having "help­ lessly to tremble for a subsistence." Unless otherwise noted, all ita lic s , omitted words, and omitted letters are reproduced as they appear in the texts of Burns's writings. 5 After the 1745 Uprising the Highlanders, most of whom had supported the Stuart cause, were subjected to severe social, legal, and m ilitary restrictions; for various reasons, they began to emigrate.

r Burns was penalized by the Kirk Session for fornication with and with . Gavin Hamilton was censured by the Mauchline Kirk Session for neglect of public worship. The Kirk Session punished an offender by fining him and/or making him s it on a punishment stool for one or more worship days. In L e tte r s, I, 242, Burns writes, "I am in perpetual warfare with that doctrine of our Reverend Priesthood, that 'we are born into this world bond slaves of inequity and heirs of perdition, wholly inclined' to that which is evil . . . I believe . . . we come into this world with a heart & disposition to do good for it. ..."

^See also "Dedication to Hamilton," 11. 70-77.

8See also "The Ordination," 11. 10-18, 23-27, 42-45; "Epistle to John Goldie," 11. 1-6; "To the Rev. M'Math," 11. 33-36. 28

g In the second half of the eighteenth century, the Moderates (or New Lichts) and Evangelicals (or Auld Lichts), two factions w ithin the Kirk, quarreled about dogma and methods. Whereas the Evangelicals continued to emphasize Calvinist dogma, seek and punish heretics and even minor moral offenders, and condemn secular amusements, the Moderates favored relaxation of the strict creed, the ban against secular pleasures, and the s tric t enforcement of discipline. The Moderates preached calmly, directing their words to their con­ gregation's rational faculties; in keeping with a "reasonable" approach to morality, they argued against superstitious beliefs. On the other hand, the Evangelicals spoke of witches as if they were real, and they s t ill delivered s tirrin g , emotional sermons. The Auld Lichts also favored the democratic selection of ministers while the New Lichts preferred that the "Patron" of the community name the local minister. In communities where Burns lived, the Auld Licht brand of old-style Calvinism s t ill dominated, but New Lichts were advancing th e ir power; controversy between the two groups raged sporadically, and Burns usually sided with the New Lichts.

^Burns often expressed his sympathy for the , as recorded in L e tte rs , I I , 196, 249, 281-82.

^See also L e tte rs , I I , 178, 250.

^The texts for "The Bonniest Lass," "The Ploughman," "They Took Me to Haly Band," "0 Saw Ye My Maggie," and "Errock Brae" are found in The M erry Muses o f C aledonia, ed. G. Legman (New Hyde Park, New York: University Books, 1965). Hereafter any references to these five poems are to this source.

^See also "The Bonniest Lass" and "Wha'll M_w Me Now" for further illustrations of his attacks on the Kirk's conventional morality and its profession of knowing the Elect from the Damned. 14 Thomas Crawford, Bums: A Study o f the Poems and Songs (1960; rpt, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1965), p. 227. 15 Jack Troutner, '"Tam o' Shanter's' Paths of Glory: Tone in Robert Burns's Narrative," Studies in English, 1 (Spring 1968), 74. 1 fi For other examples, see also "The Holy Tulzie," 11. 31-36; "The Libel Summons," II. 130-33; and "Love and Liberty," 11. 65-69. 17 For other examples, see also "Buy Braw Troggin" and "Wha'll M_w Me Now." 18 See also the pomposity of the Rev. James Steven attacked in "The C alf." 29

^See also "Second Epistle to Lapraik," 11. 61-64. 20 See also L e tte r s , I I , 37. 21 Note also "Lines at S tirlin g ," in which the Hanovers are called "a Race outlandish" and "an idiot race, to honor lost." 22 For other examples of his attacks on Fox, see "A Dream," 11. 89-90 and "When Guilford Good," 11. 39-40, 49-52. CHAPTER I I —VEHICLES OF SATIRE

Burns uses various poetic forms in order to convey his

s a tiric attacks on "man’s inhumanity to man." Rarely does he write the specific classical form called "satire"; usually, in

both the early and later poetry, he delivers his attacks in other

modes: the epistle, the monologue, the dramatic monologue, the

dialogue, the burlesque, the song, and Christis Kirk. In short,

his s a tiric s p irit is protean: He finds the epistolary form an

effective medium for his expressions of personal and

s a tiric judgments about moral failings he witnesses. He writes

the informal le tte r -c h a tty , spontaneous, private; into

thirteen of these he inserts satiric elements, which both occupy

only a few lines and dominate whole poems. The monologue he uses

in various ways as a vehicle of his satire. Some are fully realized dramatic monologues, some are only addresses given by one speaker to an , and some are mixtures of the two; in a ll, however, Burns weds form to the satiric point. Closely related is the dialogue,

used in only three pieces as a medium for rid icu le. His "mock"

poems or burlesques, such as the mock-elegy, -celebration, and -heroic, offer d ifferen t advantages to his s a tiric intents. In each, Burns

treats an important subject frivolously and thus attacks others'

seriousness on the subject; at the same time he assails human frailties. Songs are a favorite form, especially in the later poems; but even in the early group, Burns shows his control over the song

utilized for satiric purposes. Last, Burns always inserts satiric 30 material into the Christis Kirk form. Although for these pieces he

sometimes creates a , the focus is not on the speaker or the

speaker's attitudes; rather, he concentrates on the activities of

participants, such as their excessive desire for knowledge or wealth

or their failures to reconcile Kirk restrictions with natural desire.

In these seven modes Burns attacks the moral and intellectual f a i l ­

ings prevalent in ministers, Calvinism, political events, government

leaders, the rich, and ordinary citizens. Moreover, he demonstrates

in the early group skilled control and mastery of each he uses

for s a tiric purposes.


One of Burns's favorite modes for his s a tiric expression is

the epistle, the verse le tte r. Although only one epistle ("To Robert

Graham") is totally satiric, thirteen of them include satiric

passages of varying lengths.^ In the early group, ten letters in

verse contain passages attacking human imperfections. The epistolary

form apparently loses his favor as a satiric instrument after July

1786. The early poems, however, demonstrate the breadth of Burni's

s k ill with this form; the later three pieces show no advancement in

mastery of the s a tiric epistle. A closer look at the epistles'

s a tiric targets, verse forms, and the interrelationship between audience, speaker, tone, and structure can let us see more specifi­ cally the nature of these satiric letters and can allow us to assess

Burns's s k ill in adapting the form to his purposes. The content of Burns's sa tiric epistles, as well as the tone,

varies according to the audience he addresses. For the most part,

he writes to friends receptive to his ideas. Furthermore, when he

includes s a tiric remarks, he anticipates his reader's agreement.

That is , he does not attack the Kirk elders' hypocrisy by w riting to

William Fisher or "Daddy" Auld but by writing to Gavin Hamilton, who was censured by the Kirk Session ("Dedication to Hamilton"). After a local poet, William Simpson, asked Burns about his satires on

ecclesiastical wrangling, Burns's epistle answers Simpson by creat­

ing a light-hearted about the moon, describing metaphorically the Auld Licht-New Licht disputes. Burns feels that John Rankin, whom he characterizes as a fellow carouser, shares his indictment of hypocritical clerics and sympathizes with his violation of Kirk rules about fornication. Even when Burns is using an epistle as a means to begin a friendship, such as with John Lapraik, he makes satiric remarks; he attacks avarice (repeated in his second epistle to Lapraik), perhaps because he wishes to c la rify his own values, to advise the man that no friendship can evolve if Lapraik himself is avaricious.

Sometimes he writes to men who have publicly announced their h o s tility to the Auld Licht brand of Calvinism; for example, Burns knows that

John M'Math and John Goldie, who in scorned the Evangelicals, and Gavin Hamilton, who fe lt the Auld Lichts' punishment, w ill agree with his attack against the Auld Lichts. Burns anticipates also

that , whom he calls a patron and a friend, w ill appreciate

the lig h tly mocking of Burns's taxable possessions ("The 33

Inventory"). The reciprocal relationship between audience and satiric content is similarly important in the later epistles. Burns expects

Captain Logan, a local friend noted for his wit and his hearty indulgence in women, liquor, and song, to applaud Burns's assaults on the indifferent rich and on the ministers' antagonism to sexual lib e rty . Robert Graham, who helped Burns secure and retain a post in the Excise, was knowledgeable about local politics and a promoter of Burns's poetry; he seems a natural choice as recipient of the poet's epistle that mocks political candidates and local elections, ridiculing again the Kirk's strictures against sexual expression,

Burns varies his approach; in "Reply to a Tailor" he writes to a nonsympathetic stranger, Instead of seeking this man's friendship,

Burns flaunts his own sexual a c tiv itie s in order to mock both the

Kirk and the presumptuous ta ilo r who dared send Burns a poor poem chastizing him for his lustiness.

In all of his epistles, his knowledge of his readers' interests and attitudes allows Burns freedom to include s a tiric remarks he knows his friends will agree with and even laugh at. Such familiarity with his readers and his choice of versification create the conver­ sational and even chatty tone that characterizes many of these verse le tte rs . John Weston adds that the Scots lite ra ry epistle "was a which, while giving hirn the established formal boundaries and lite ra ry conventions which his almost invariably required, allowed for a colloquial and discursive ease and the motivation of one of his strongest feelings, congenial friendship, which in turn 34 o encouraged earnest confidences and witty extravagances." A good bit of his "discursive ease" is also attributable to his usual verse

pattern, Standard Habbie.^ Its fle x ib ility allows him to create a casual, informal tone, as revealed in these remarks to Simpson:

My memory's no worth a preen; pin I had amaist forgotten clean, Ye bad me w rite you what they mean By this n e w -lig h t, 'Bout which our herds sae a ft hae been Maist like to fig ht. ("To William Simpson-- Postscript," 11.109-14)

Indicating how adaptive the is, these three examples show him using the same stanzaic pattern to create three different tones:

While briers an' woodbines budding green, An' Paitricks scraichan loud at e'en, partridges or girls And morning Poossie whiddan seen, hares; moves sound- Inspire ir\y Muse, lessly This freedom, in an unknown fr ie n ', I pray excuse. ("Epistle to Lapraik," 11,1-6)

0 Gowdie, terror o' the whigs, Dread o' black coats and reverend wigs! Sour Bigotry on his last legs Girns and looks back, gr'rs and snarls Wishing the ten Egyptian plagues May seize you quick. —( "Epistle to Goldie," 11.1-6)

While new-ca'd kye rowte at the stake, cows; bellow An' pownies reek in pleugh or braik, plow; harrow This hour on e'enin's edge I take, To own I'm debtor, To honest-hearted, auld For his kind le t t e r . ("Second Epistle to Lapraik," 11. 1- 6 )

Much o f the f ir s t stanza seems appropriate to a sober descriptive lyric or philosophical piece; Burns is on his good behavior, writing to a man he has never met but one he thinks w ill prove a friend. The 35 second goes to a casual acquaintance, though a supporter of views thatBurns approves; he is writing as i f praising his local congress­ man. The third is to a man already friendly to Burns; Burns is as casual as we a ll are with close friends, and he writes Standard

Habbie as fluently as i f he were conversing with the man over a beer.^ Later epistles use only the Standard Habbie stanza, emphasiz­ ing Burns's confidence with this verse. And the adaptation of

Standard Habbie to relatively informal and even rambunctious tones continues in the later pieces. Burns could hardly more informally address his friend:

Come then, w i' uncouth, kintra fleg, kick O'er Pegasus I'll fling my leg, And ye shall see me try him. — ("Epistle to Graham," 11.4-6)5

As boisterously as he greets Lapraik, he salutes William Logan:

Hail, thairm-inspirin, rattling Willie! fiddle-inspiring Though Fortune's road be rough an' h illy To ev'ry fiddling, rhyming b illie, We never heed; But tak i t like th ' unbacked F illie , Proud o' her speed. ("Epistle to Logan," 11.1-6)

And we can clearly recognize Burns's opinion by the way he opens

"Reply to a Tailor":

What a ils ye now, ye lousie b h, To thresh my back at sic a pitch£

In the verse le tte rs , naturally enough, Burns speaks in his own voice. He will vary aesthetic distance, modifying his use of fir s t person by speaking personally and intimately in some poems, intoning objectively as a disinterested observer in others, or adopt­ ing a mask, never far removed from his own personality. When Burns 36 writes to Rankin, for example, he is speaking personally to an i n t i ­ mate friend:

I'v e sent you here, some rhymin ware, A' that I bargain'd for, an' mair; Sae when ye hae an hour to spare, I will expect, Yon Sang y e 'll sen 't , w i' cannie care, And no neglect. (11.25-30)

When he speaks in his own voice, we must be especially a le rt to

inflections and tone of voice so that we discern the sarcasm in remarks such as

Hypocrisy, in mercy spare it ! That h o ly ro b e , 0 dinna tear it ! Spare 't for th eir sakes wha aften wear i t , The lads in h la c k \ But your curst w it, when i t comes near i t , Rives 't aff their back. (11.13-18)

Burns is more detached in the "Postscript" to Simpson, where he describes the activities of the Auld and New Lichts. Pretending he has no bias, he seems to be the in differen t observer who pays no compliments to either side but merely watches, records, and laughs; but

BLurns is , in the fantasy, actually passing judgment when he mocks both groups, although he leaves us to form conclusions about his s a tiric point rather than directly stating i t or using ironic reversal.

Occasionally, he will don a mask; for instance, in "To M'Math" he projects himself as a "simple, countra bardie" (1.14). Assuming the view of an unsophisticated rustic, Burns pretends ignorance of ministers' motives: They take religion in their mouth; They talk o' mercy, grace an' truth, For what?— to gie their malice skouth scope On some puir wight, An' hunt him down, o'er righ t an' ruth, To ruin streight. (11.55-60)

The exaggerated description of what the ministers do shows the

naivete' of a simple peasant; yet the reader can easily penetrate

the disguise and recognize Burns's indictment of their hypocrisy

and cruelty.

Among the later epistles, Burns shows no new variation in his

use of f ir s t person. In his own voice, he speaks casually and con­

versationally to the tailor and to Logan. In "Epistle to Graham"

he presents himself as a sympathetic observer, ruing the b a ttle fie ld


0, that my een were flowing burns! rivers My voice, a lioness that mourns Her darling cub's undoing! That I might greet, that I might cry, weep While Tories fall, while Tories fly From furious whigs pursuing. — (11.97-102)

Since Burns wrote the poem when he favored the Whigs, we can recognize

the sarcasm in his overstated sorrow. He is using a mask of sorts, pretending a bias that reverses his real opinion.

Not only versification, the poet's relationship to his audience,

the poet's use of masks, and his tone characterize the epistles. The structures of these letters also contribute to their satiric effectiveness. In the early group only the "Postscript" to Simpson and "Epistle to Goldie" and in the later group only "Epistle to

Graham" show a unified development of topic. That is , Burns adds 38 nothing extraneous to his fantasy about a debate over the moon's orig in , his praise of Goldie's ecclesiastical Moderatism, or his attacks on politicians' methods and motives. But even these cannot be considered cohesive in structure. The postscript to Simpson it s e lf is a coherent whole, but i t inaugurates a total s h ift of sub­ je c t from the le tte r. The postscript, however, does develop one subject with no mention of irrelevant material. It presents a chronological account of the origins of the quarrel, each side's opinion, each side's behavior towards its opponents, and the proposed solution. Any disgression from the would detract from its satiric effectiveness, because without unity of subject the post­ script would not be satiric. Similarly "Epistle to Goldie" adheres to one topic, an attack of Auld Lichts and their teachings. In imperative sentences its f ir s t four personify bigotry, superstition, enthusiasm, and orthodoxy; although the pattern may seem abruptly interrupted by the fifth stanza's shift to declarative sentences and non-figurative comments, the poem does develop just one subject. The s h ift at the fifth stanza changes tone and perspec­ tive but continues the same topic: the Auld Lichts' poverty of spiri­ tual devotion and the Moderates' acceptance of secular pleasures.

Among the later group, in "Epistle to Graham" Burns first satirically describes various persons, then constructs a fic tiv e anecdote about a war among the p o litician s, and concludes with another l i s t of people whom he ridicules; his s a tiric point is clearly enunciated in this ep istle, whose cohesiveness derives from its singleness in s a tiric tone and its attack of only one target. 39

These three epistles exhibit some unified development of topic.

Others, which show less unity, do not maintain the satiric tone throughout. For example, when he writes about his taxable possessions, he gives as much attention to mocking those who tax him or who are rich as he does to describing his property; however, i f he had adhered to his purported topic--a lis t of property—the poem would lack the elements that make i t s a tiric ("The Inventory"). Burns's epistle to M'Math is not to ta lly s a tiric ; he talks about his own religious beliefs, attacks the hypocritical, admits his own sins, and explains why he satirizes clerics. Thus, in a sense, he adheres to sim ilar topics, even i f mixing s a tiric passages with straight­ forward discussions. That so many of the epistles lack cohesive structure and contain scattered s a tiric comments can perhaps be explained by the nature of the mode. As do his letters,

Burns's verse letters ramble, wandering from one subject to another.

For example, in "Dedication to Hamilton" he starts with praise of

Hamilton's character, moves to a scornful passage about the "great- folk" and his own unwillingness to truckle to anyone, describes the kindnesses a true gentleman shows toward others, and, at line 49, unleashes harsh attack on the hypocritical and intolerant ecclesiasts; with a less than smooth transition— "your pardon, S ir, for this ,/I maist forgot my Dedication"—he returns to his original topic—praise of Hamilton and wishes for his friend's future happiness. Then he supposedly concludes: 40

I w ill not wind a lang conclusion, With complimentary effusion: But whilst your wishes and endeavours, Are blest with Fortune's smiles and favours, I am, Dear Sir, with zeal most fervent, Your much indebted, hurrble servant. (11.113-18)

But Burns apparently does not recognize his own conclusion, for he

adds sixteen more lines of praise and blessings. Although the

structure is disjointed, there is no mistaking the satiric fervor and

point of certain passages; lack of cohesion does not mar s a tiric

clarity. Similarly, in "To Mr. John Kennedy" only the last two

stanzas s a tirize ; he ridicules those who oppress the poor and judge

character by external appearances. These stanzas are added not

because they naturally evolve from the material.in the first three

stanzas but because Burns apparently thought of another topic and

tacked these lines on. In two la te r pieces, to Logan and to the

tailor, he shows the same vacillation in topic. Half of "Reply to a

Tailor" attacks the tailor for daring to censure Burns and refers to

B iblical figures whose polygamy and lust Burns thinks excuse his own; then the second half of the poem records a fic tiv e anecdote,

recreating imaginatively an encounter between Burns and a Kirk elder.

The two halves of the poem do concern the same general topic—Burns's

fornication, his defense, and the Kirk's punishment—and although he does not in terlin k those parts, the reader should have no d iffic u lty

in understanding the target of attack.

Thus, i t is easy to speak of s a tiric elements in Burns's verse

letters, but he rarely sustains satiric development throughout an entim epistle. The disjointedness, vacillation in topic, and abrupt shifts 41

in tone and subject do not, however, obscure the s a tiric points he

includes. Furthermore, i f the epistles could be labelled "satires"

in the classical sense of the term, there would be no need to discuss

them as "vehicles for satire." Lack of cohesive structure does not

obscure his point any more than his choices of versification his

indictments. For satiric purposes the epistle functions well in

Burns's hands.


Also as vehicles for satires, Burns frequently uses monologues,

in which speakers express ideas and feelings about certain topics.

In some of his first-person , Burns creates dramatic mono­

logues. According to Robert Langbaum's description of its crucial

elements, the dramatic monologue has the ability to create tension

between the reader's sympathy and his moral judgment. As readers we may sympathize because we recognize the humanness of the speaker's

flaws, so lik e our own, or because we admire his power or v ita lity .

Noting that "we must suspend moral judgment, [th a t] we must sympa­

thize in order to read the poem," Langbaum also points out that the

poet must establish judgment even while he creates sympathy. In some way he must c la rify what the reader is to think of the speaker and

his viewpoint. Moreover, the meaning of the dramatic monologue lies

in the disequilibrium between "what the speaker reveals and under­

stands."^ That is, the reader perceives the speaker and/or his

subject d ifferen tly from the way the speaker conceives of himself or the subject. Such disequilibrium and tension are, however, 42 absent from a 11 nondrama tic" monologue, which does contain sim ilar elements; organized around a single perspective, i t is a first-person narrative which subordinates story to character and does to varying degrees reveal the speaker's character. But we do not find our judgment and the speaker's in tension, nor do we discern a discrepancy between the speaker's understanding and our own. Examinations of

Burns's early monologues and dramatic monologues reveal how s k illfu lly he uses the forms for s a tiric ends; although he employs these modes for la te r poems, he does not significantly change his use of the form nor demonstrate increased mastery.

Among the early group, only one fu lly realized s a tiric al dramatic monologue exists--"Holy W illie's Prayer"; eight other poems, exhibiting in varying degrees the characteristic features of the dramatic monologue, demonstrate Burns's s k ill in adapting the mono­ logue to satire.

In "Address to the Unco Guid," one of his early monologues,

Burns speaks in his own voice. It is the poet who straightforwardly attacks the "unco guid" for their pious demeanors and incompassionate hearts. He makes no attempt to justify his own feelings but conceives of himself as speaking anyone's scorn of the rig id ly righteous: " I, for th e ir thoughtless, careless sakes/Would here propose defences"

(11.13-14). Speaking directly and persuasively to the inflexibly devout, he cites examples in order to support his pleas for tolerance.

The speaker, of course, reveals his own character--his sympathy with the blackguard, his own commissions of errors, his belief in God as the final Judge—but he is conscious of all that he discloses. In the poem there is no indication that he tries to hide his opinions, for he openly commits himself to a tolerance of moral flaws and to distress over others' narrow-mindedness (see stanzas IV and V I).

Furthermore, the poem lacks in that the group to which he addresses himself is never defined specifically. The poet does not speak as if the persons were physically present but just describes their actions and tries to persuade them to engage in self-analyses that would encourage them to be more compassionate. By ridiculing those who think themselves so good, he is suggesting that sympathy in act and feeling forms the core of a person's moral consciousness and should guide his behavior. In this monologue the reader can clearly discern the target of Burns's satire as well as his motives for attack. To be sure, much of the satiric point is indirectly conveyed; most of the poem explains why the unco guid should be more tolerant and how they can modify their behavior. Direct attack consumes only a small portion of the piece. But the s a tiric tone is enunciated clearly enough, even though he gives more weight to explaining solutions and relies on statement rather than dramatized action.

Further exhibiting has use of the monologue form is "Author's

Cry and Prayer." In this first-person address, Burns characterizes himself as "a simple Bardie" and "a nameless wight." Although this persona is more fu lly characterized than the one-dimensional speaker in "Address to the Unco Guid," he is not revealing anything of which 44 he is unconscious. No discrepancy between the speaker's and the reader's understandings exists. The speaker introduces his view when he expresses his distress about one of Parliament's laws:

Alas! my roupet Muse is haerse! husky Your Honors' hearts w i' g rie f 'twad pierce, To see her sittan on her arse Low i ' the dust, An' scriechan out prosaic verse, An' like to brust [sic]! (11.7-12)

This conversational, energetic tone continues as Burns demonstrates his knowledge of several ministers' flaws and virtues: the "aith- detesting, chaste K i V k e v r a nErskine, "a spunkie norland b illie " ;

"yon ill-tongu'd tinkler, Charlie Fox" (11.74,79,109). The whole group is chastized for leaving Scotland th irs ty . The speaker illustrates also how skillfully he can apply the tools of persuasive . Not seeking to s a tirize the ministers so bitingly that they w ill reject his pleas, he appeals to th eir manliness, patriotism, sense of fa ir play, and fears of revolution. The concluding stanza illu s tra te s his approach:

SCOTLAND, my auld, respected Mither! Tho' whyles ye moistify your leather, T ill when ye speak, ye aiblins blether; Yet del1-mak-metter! no matter FREEDOM and WHISKY gang thegither, Tak aff your whitter. (11.181-86) draught of liquor

While intoning patriotically, he is also ridiculing the fearful Scots and creating a convincing triumvirate of whiskey, freedom, and Scots . This poem illustrates Burns's skillful interweaving of s a tiric and non-satiric passages. Never too harsh in his indictments, he exposes his target to ridicule while at the same time convincingly persuades us of the justness of his proposed solution. In his preface to "A Dream," Burns says that he read the Poet

Laureate's laudatory ode about the king's birthday, then fell asleep

and dreamed he addressed this poem to the king. This device and his

outlines of the speaker's character create a thin disguise. Clearly,

the persona is not too unlike Burns, but by constructing a persona

Burns is able to add a protective garment and to make a

principal technique. The persona characterizes himself as an humble

poet whose "skill may weel be doubted," who refuses to fla tte r

just for favors, and who self-effacingly professes his reticence, as

in "Far be't frae me that I aspire/To blame your Legislation" and

" [I cast] nae reflection on YOUR GRACE,/Your Kingship to bespatter"

(11.29,20-22,37-38,23-24). The naive, chatty speaker professes

respect and hesitation to criticize. Just this much modesty creates

ironic tone; the persona may hesitate to chastize royalty, but the

presence of denigrating remarks demonstrates Burns's intent in the

poem. The stupid king blindly accepts fla tte ry from lying poets, appoints incompetent ministers, and disregards the needs of his constituents (11.14-17,32-33,42-29). In fact, the persona is a

flexible vehicle, varyingly the voice of virtue and the flatterer of

fo lly .

To permit this persona to damn with fa in t praise, Burns places him at the levee where royalty is celebrating, but there is no

interaction between the persona and the group. There is l i t t l e development of the inherent drama. The speaker addresses members of the royal family, as if standing among them; at first he speaks 46 directly to the king, then shifts his attention to the "young

Potentate o' W[ales],“ the "right rev'rend 0[snaburg]," and the

"royal Lasses dainty" (11.82,100,119). But we never hear the family's responses nor sense that the speaker adjusts his remarks to any rejoinders they might be voicing. Moreover, this poem is not a fu lly realized dramatic monologue because there is not enough dis­ parity between the speaker's understanding—he thinks that at least some of his comments are complimentary—and ours—we recognize the blame-by-praise device.

In the octosyllabic of the monologue "Libel Summons,"

Burns expresses his contempt for cowardly lovers and snubs his nose at the Kirk's attempted restrictions of sexual desire. The poem is fairly direct in its attacks, the persona a thin disguise for Burns.

This is, however, an odd sort of monologue in that no single individual speaks; rather, one voice represents a group, its members not dis­ tinguished from one another;

WE, Fornicators by profession, As per extractum from each Session, In way and manner here narrated, Pro bono Amor congregated. . . . (11.5-8)

This persona (presented as a solitary voice, even if referred to as

"we") narrates the convening of the court, describes the judges (of which "Poet Burns" is one) and then speaks directly to the audience,

Brown and Dow, the two fornicators who refuse to admit th eir deeds.

We receive a limited view of the single character of this persona, knowing l i t t l e more than that the "we" are male fornicators who censure those who w ill not confess th e ir sexual a c tiv itie s . The piece shows 47

some dramatic potential in the lines which describe the punishments


You MONSIEUR BROWN, as i t is proven, JEAN MITCHEL's wame by you was hoven; belly; distended Without you by a quick repentance Acknowledge Jean's an' your acquaintance, Depend on 't, this shall be your sentence.-- Our beadles to the Cross shall take you, And there shall mither naked make you; Some canie grip near by your middle, cautious They shall it bind as tight1s a fiddle; The raep they round the PUMP shall tak An1 tye your han's behint your back; Wi1 ju st an' e ll o' string allow'd fraction of an inch To jin k an' hide you frae the croud: jerk There ye shall stan', a legal seizure, In during Jeanie Mitchel's pleasure; So be, her pleasure dinna pass Seven turnings of a half-hour glass: Nor shall it in her pleasure be To louse you out in less than THREE. (11.136-54) loose

But for the most part, the poem is a static, set piece, consisting of generalized description and to which the recipients apparently make no response. The persona is conscious of a ll "he" reveals about himself and his subject; thus there is not the disequilibrium common to dramatic monologue. However, the discrepancy between the reader's and speaker's views is crucial to Burns's s a tiric point.

The Kirk leaders would certainly dispute the fornicators' casual acceptance of copulation; the individual must decide whether i t is more appropriate to judge the persona as immoral, accept the natural­ ness of any and a ll sexual a c tiv ity , sympathize with sexualdesires but demand s e lf-d is c ip lin e, or react in someother fashion. Burns's use of the monologue form for this topic does tend, however, to force the reader to side with or against the persona, to react both emo­ tio nally and rationally to the material presented. 48

Adhering more closely to the characteristics of the dramatic monologue are three other early s a tiric poems. In "Address of Beel­ zebub," as the t i t l e predicts, Burns selects Beelzebub as his persona.

Knowing the name of this speaker creates expectations in the reader, for our culture has taught us that Beelzebub is the embodiment of a ll e v il. We are probably doubtful of his veracity even before we read his speech. Certainly, it is difficult for a reader to suspend judgment of him; we have been too thoroughly instructed to judge

Satan harshly. Satan's offers of hospitality and his display of intelligence are not sufficient to gain our respect or sympathy

(11.53-61,13-26). Partly because the devil praises the Society's decisions, even protesting "Your HAND'S OWRE LIGHT ON THEM [the

Highlanders seeking to emigrate]" and because we detect the sarcasm in Burns's tone, we reject the persona's appraisal (1.32). Beelzebub is , in effect, just a mouthpiece, a puppet whose traditional associa­ tions with evil are all we need know, for Burns apparently has no particular reason for selecting Beelzebub rather than Mammon or Belial or some other devil; he makes no attempt to delineate the speaker's character. But, by letting a devil praise the Society's actions,

Burns can forcefully express his attack, A straightforward indictment in prose or verse with Burns speaking in his own voice could convey his angry attack ju st as easily, but his choice of persona and his sustained use of ironic reversal do provide intensity and interest.

Burns again selects the Devil as a character, this time as the audience for a speaker's chatty and amiable monologue. Although "Address to the Deil" only records one side of the conversation, we are made aware of the presence of the silent listner, expecting him to speak up at any moment, perhaps in response to the persona's question "D‘ ye mind that day, when in a bizz [flu r r y ],/W i' reeket

[smoky] duds, an' reestet gizz [smoke-dried wig]. . . (11.97-102).

The focus fa lls on the Devil's activities--unroofing the churches, scaring wayfarers with moans, stealing milk from housewives' churns, causing temporary impotence among young men, melting ice so the unsuspecting may f a ll, leading drunkards into mires. The persona reveals little of himself except for one crucial attitude: he views the Devil as "Auld Hornie" and "Clootie," a mischievous tric kster, a rougish jokester, Because the reader trad itio n a lly associates the Devil with malignant e v il, there seems to be a discrepancy between the speaker's attitude and the reader's. It is in this discrepancy that Burns's s a tiric point exists. By turning to folk lore father than to the Kirk's dogma for examples of Satan's behavior, 7 Burns mocks the Kirk's conception of the Devil. The reader too is mocked i f he takes the traditional Christian view of Satan, for he is too seriously and sternly perceiving a figure who, to the persona, is just a friendly fellow. Suggesting that Satan may be redeemable, the persona dissolves Calvinist concepts of predestination, e v il, and original sin into nothingness (11.121-26). Although the reader may judge the Devil to be a malignant force in the , i t is not d iffic u lt to sympathize with the persona's amiable acceptance of popular lore about Satan, in short, the dramatic monologue form 50

and the attack are inseparable; Burns exposes, through the dramatic

mode, his s a tiric view of the Kirk's s tric t conception of the Devil.

Viewing "To a Louse" as a dramatic monologue gives an entirely

new dimension to the poem, one not emphasized by other analysts.

Three characters interact, as i f playing out-a scene which Burns

directs. The focus falls, at least until the final stanza, on Jenny, whose pretensions and vanity are exposed by the louse, the catalyst.

The persona, a nearby observer, reveals that he is aware of social

distinctions, that he can feel sympathetic amusement, and that he

perceives the world foolishly. Only an outside observer could suggest

the satiric point about pride and hypocrisy, for the other two characters lack sufficient knowledge of all the events. Only the

reader, however, understands Burns's point fu lly ; not only Jenny but also the speaker is ridiculed. At fir s t shocked and fascinated by the louse's a c tiv itie s , the persona tries to warn i t away: "Gae

somewhere else and seek your dinner" (1.11). Then he tries to warn

Jenny, voicing a compassion the reader can share: "0 Jenny dinna

toss you head,/An' set your beauties a' abread!" (11.37-38).

Finally the persona passes judgment on what he has seen:

0 wad some Pow'r the g if tie gie us To eee owsels as others see us I It wad frae monie a blunder free us An1 foolish notion: What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us, And ev'n Devotion! (11.43-48)

Suddenly, the reader realizes that he and the persona no longer share the same understanding of the situation; for the reader feels a tension between his sympathy for and judgment of the persona. For the speaker has in his last words revealed his foolishness, not seeing the truth in 's judgment--"satire is a sort of glass wherein g beholders do generally discover everybody's faces except th e ir own."

I f Jenny knew a louse was creeping along her bonnet, would she cease wearing fancy hats or trying to feign a higher social rank? Do humans merely need to see th e ir fo llie s exposed in order to apply corrective measures? Although we can sympathize with the speaker's solution, by wishing self-improvement were so simple, we must reject his vision of human behavior, because his is limited, naive, and wrong-headed.

These poems convey Burns's attacks on various targets and reveal varied skill in manipulating dramatic and non-dramatic mono­ logues. But the masterpiece among Burns's dramatic monologues is

"Holy Willie's Prayer." In a unified, controlled piece, Burns lets

W illie damn himself. He stands back and allows his subject to be dramatized rather than summarized. In this dramatic monologue the reader's perception of Willie diverges from Willie's self-realization; the piece focuses on W illie's unconscious exposure of himself; and the reader experiences tension between sympathy and judgment. Long before the persona voices "Amen! Amen!" we detect the irony and see that there is no reason or evidence to support the speaker's assumption of election or God's favor. In brief, the poem is "a satirical g crucifixion—slow, lingering, inexorable." Contributing to this crucifixion is Burns's decision to follow the sequence of a prayer: invocation (11.1-6) and praise (11.7-30), confession and penitence 52

(11.37-60), intercession (11.61-62), and petition (11.63-102).^^ The use of the prayer's structure intensifies the irony, for in every phase, W illie exposes how far removed he is from a prayerful attitude.

Addressing God, W illie thinks he compliments God for his power and thanks Him for electing him. But he praises as i f to reward God for God's wisdom and graciousness in saving W illie . He compliments

God only because he believes God has given him grace (11.7-12,25-30).

Confessing his drinking and fornication, he thinks he openly repents; but instead of taking responsibility for his sins, he is anxious to ju s tify himself and to escape any consequences by blaming them on

God, calling them part of God's predestined plan (11.41-42,55-60).

He is apparently unaware of his pettiness in urging that Hamilton's food be cursed or the unchristian tone of his demands for vengeance.

He is similarly unconscious of the irony in his call for Hamilton's damnation for lesser offenses than W illie's own or in his demand for God's wrath on the Presbytery of Ayr, composed of W illie's fellow leaders and presumably themselves Chosen. In b rie f, W illie wants

God to avenge those who have harmed W illie , not those who have repudiated God; to Willie, only Willie matters. When Willie recalls his nervousness during the Kirk Session, he does not perceive that he reveals how little strength he truly derives from his faith. When he argues that i t w ill be for God's glory i f God "remember[s] me and mine/Wi' mercies temporal and divine," he is unconsciously reemphasizing his own selfishness (11.97-98).

Burns remains detached throughout the poem; part of the expertise in this monologue is that the poet never intrudes but so 53 completely creates Willie as a character that we are persuaded that we are overhearing his prayer. Variations in Willie's tone are not imposed by Burns but evolve naturally within W illie . For instances in the lines in which he confesses his sins and tries to offer alibis, he seems to stumble, as the dashes and fragmentary bursts of words indicate: "0 L__d--yestreen--thou kens--wi' Meg-~/Thy pardon I sincerely beg!" (11.43-44). His voice rises to anger when he thinks of Hamilton; with fiery imperatives he demands that God punish

Hamilton, not for his sins but for setting "the warld in a roar/0' laughin at us" and for making W illie nervously uncomfortable (11.75-76,

87-88, and last six stanzas).

W illie sees himself as Chosen for salvation and as an example of Christian virtue; the reader sees him as egocentric, arrogant, spiteful, and malicious. A similar discrepancy exists between the reader's and W illie's views of God. The God whom W illie worships is malicious, unfair, fickle, illogical, vengeful, and stupid.

Willie's God, in short, is an extension of the speaker's own character, a figment of his distorted understanding. Furthermore, W illie unknowingly reveals the horror and absurdities of the religious system that has created a picture of a wrathful God, the concept of predestination, and the b e lie f in "perserverance of the saints."

In this poem, Burns is denigrating both Willie and the Calvinist system that mi stormed him. As Crawford notes, Burns's merciless irony "strips bare the perverse barbarity of Willie's distorted 11 Calvinism." No mode other than the dramatic monologue could so vividly or te llin g ly communicate Burns's angry attack. 54

In his later poetry, Burns continues his use of monologues and dramatic monologues for s a tiric purposes. In standard English— a ra rity for Burns's satires--"Sketch to Fox" presents Burns's address to Charles Fox. The opening lines indicate the monologue's im itative formality and its tendency to speak in hackneyed generalities:

How Wisdom and Folly meet, mix and unite; How Virtue and Vice blend their black and their white; How Genius, th ' illustrious father of fic tio n , Confounds rule and law, reconciles contradiction, I sing; i f these mortals, the C ritic s , should bustle, I care not, not I, let the Critics go whistle! (11.1-6)

That last line does sound distinctively lik e Burns's mockery. The five-to-one mixture, however, characterizes the sketch as a whole.

Most of the piece consists of a general and abstract discussion of mankind; not until the last stanza does Burns become personal and s a tiric . Then he labels William P itt a smuggler and th ie f, adding that Fox too can ably compete in those a c tiv itie s (11.45-50). The poem is weak in that Burns seems never to have decided whether he wanted to win Fox's approval and patronage through fla tte ry and pompous philosophizing, or whether he wanted to attack Fox's frailtie s ,. The resulting monologue coheres like oil and water.

Burns does not, in this later use of the monologue, demonstrate increased skill with the form; if anything, "Sketch to Fox" shows less competency than any of the early s a tiric monologues.

Another of his la te r poems, "The Kirk o f Scotland's Garland," exhibits the characteristic features of the monologue. The persona sounds an alarm: 55

Orthodox, Orthodox, who believe in John Knox Let me sound an alarm to your conscience; A heretic blast has been blawn i 1 the West— That what is not Sense must be Nonsense, Orthodox. . . . (11.1-4)

Knowing Burns's habit of attacking orthodox C alvinists, we are wary of accepting this injunction at face value. Indeed, we soon realize that much of the poem's satire evolves from ironic reversal. I t is only the persona, not the poet, who wants McGill stretched on a rack 12 for his "heretic, damnable error" of joining faith and sense (11.6-9).

Yet, because the poem is not sustained ironic reversal and because there is no sustained disequilibrium between the persona's views and the reader's, the poem fails to become fully realized dramatic monologue. Much like the speaker in "A Dream," this persona vacillates in .his views, sometimes voicing praise, sometimes attack. For example, the speaker, poet, and reader a ll share the same under­ standing of such imperatives as:

Calvin's Sons, Calvin's Sons, seize your spiritual guns— Ammunition ye never can need; Your HEARTS are the s tu ff that w ill be POWDER enough, And your SCULLS are a storehouse o' LEAD. . . . (11.18-21)

Or when he urges David Grant to help punish McGill, the speaker understands, as do we, the import of his description: "Davie Rant,

Davie Rant, w i' a face like a saunt,/And a heart that wad poison a hog" (11.50-52). And the persona recognizes the implications in

Poet Burns, Poet Burns, w i' your priest-skelping turns, Why desert ye your auld native shire? Tho' your Muse is a gipsey, yet were she even tipsey, She could ca' us nae waur than we are. . . . (11.70-74)

In a very rhythmical, rambunctious poem, the speaker, by direct in­ vective and blame-by-praise, unveils the opponent's hypocrisy and 56 brutality. In that Burns sustains his satiric attack throughout, and uses the same pattern of mockery, the poem is unified. The ad­ mixture of irony and direct abuse, although detracting from the monologue form, creates no real problem for the reader; for Burns clearly delineates his satiric target,

A more s k illfu l and consistent dramatic monologue is a poem whose title makes it seem more appropriate to another classification.

"Epistle from Esopus to Maria" is, however, to ta lly uni ike Burns's other epistles and shows the distinctive characteristics of the 13 dramatic monologue. In this address, Burns dons the persona of 14 Esopus, an actor who was imprisoned on a charge of vagrancy. Esopus states his motives for writing: "From these dire scenes my wretched lines I date,/To te ll Maria her Esopus' fate" (11.11-12). In the course of his description of himself and Maria, the persona uncon­ sciously reveals information about both; his revelations create in the reader an awareness of the disparity between what he says and understands, as well as evoke both our sympathy and judgment.

Esopus apparently considers himself both a fine poet and an heroic figure; he apes openings written by poets (11,1-12), compares himself to Shakespearean heroes (11.21-23), and f ills his lines with carefully wrought imagery. But the inflated pomposity of the opening sentence simply emphasizes the obscurely phrased syntax and the tr iv ia lity of the topic; through bombastic diction and periodic sentence structure, he vainly tries to make significant his description of the people in the j a i l . And, in such passages as 57

[My story] Will turn thy very rouge to deadly pale; Will make thy hair, tho erst from gypsey p o ll'd , By Barber woven and by Barber sold . . . Like Boary bristles to erect and stare. (11.16-20) he chooses such grotesquely unsuitable images that instead of evoking our compassion for his imprisonment, he merely convinces us of his foolishness. His yearnings for Maria's compassion and his eagerness to defend her from attacks can evoke our sympathy. But his s e lf­ revelations demand we judge him a pompous, incompetent fool.

Sim ilarly, the persona does not succeed in winning much sympathy for the maligned Maria, for while trying to awaken our compassion he is simultaneously revealing her flaws. Esopus seemingly is unaware of what these lines reveal about Maria:

What scandal call'd Maria's janty stagger The ricket reeling of a crooked swagger? What slander nam'd her seeming want of a rt The flimsey wrapper of a rotten heart. . . . Who christen'd thus Maria's Lyre divine, The id iot strum of vanity bemused, And e'en th ' abuse of poesy abused? Who called her verse a parish workhouse, made For motely, foundling fancies, stolen or strayed? (11.45-56)

Simple ironic reversal indicates Burns's target as well as the speci­ fic charges he has levelled against Maria, for praise in the mouth of a criminal, a man incapable of stating things clearly and unable to differentiate between flattery and , is no praise at all.

Even in his concluding comment, Esopus unwittingly condemns both himself and Maria:

For who can write and speak as thou and I- - My periods that decyphering defy, And thy s t ill matchless tongue that conquers all reply? (11.81-83) Esopus, in brief, while trying to inflate his own reputation and defend Maria's, reveals only his buffoonery arid her immorality.

Through his characterization of the persona, his sustained use of ironic reversal, and his choice of the dramatic monologue, Burns vindictively strikes at Maria Riddell and those who would defend her character.

Among Burns's later poetry there exists one other satiric monologue: "Tam o' Shanter." Though rarely called a dramatic mono­ logue, this poem should be viewed as one. Certainly, as readers 15 have recognized, i t has characteristics of the mock-heroic.

Some of the formal speeches (11.59-66), the prophecy attributed to

Kate (11.29-32), the structural pattern of a journey, the "'s" battles, courage, and eventual triumph over obstacles, the importance of the supernatural forces, and the epic (parodied in 11.193-

200) suggest the poem's mock-epic qualities. And i t exhibits others parallels to narratives: a progressive series of interrelated events, characters engaged in the events, and a narrator who relates the inci­ dents. But, by concentrating on its satiric elements, we see that we must primarily consider i t as a dramatic monologue, not as a mock- epic.

The narrator-persona is the primary target of Burns's attack.

Within the disjunction between his understanding and ours and within the tension we feel between sympathy and judgment of his views, we find the core of Burns's s a tiric point. The narrator, one of the group at a local tavern, recounts for us Tam's experiences one evening 59

he does not, however, just te ll what happens to Tam but intrudes

his own judgments, warnings, and advice. Because he isinconsistent

in his view of the events and their significance, we become aware of

a discrepancy in his self-evaluation as well as in his understanding

of the events.

Throughout the poem, the speaker delivers prescriptive advice:

Ah, gentle dames! i t gars me greet, makes me cry To think how mony counsels sweet, How mony lengthen'd sage advices, The husband frae the wife despises! (11.33-36)

Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read, Ilk man and mother's son, take heed: Whene'er to drink you are in c lin 'd , Or cutty-sarks run in your mind, Think, ye may buy the joys o'er dear, Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare. (11.219-24; see also 11.17-18)

But we are aware that advice, whether spoken by males or females, is often fallacious. Suppose Tam had followed his wife's advice and suppose we do forever rementier Meg's shortened t a i l , what admonitions are we to remember? We are not to drink or to ride late at night, should avoid admiring beautiful women or letting curiosity lead us to adventures. The speaker ju s tifie s his denials of these a c tiv itie s by reference to Meg's stump of a t a il. The Kirk would agree with his warnings; but the reader is fille d with doubts--the consequences seem minor in contrast to the pleasures that must be denied. The reader is thus aware of a discrepancy between the persona's view and his own.

That disjunction is more obvious when we consider other char­ acteristics of the speaker. The narrator is eager to share his 60

philosophical views and to c ite Tam as has specific example. So he sermonizes about the transience of pleasure (11.59-66); but he also exposes his own attractions to pleasure:

While we s it bousing at the nappy, And getting fou and unco happy. . . .(11.5-6)

. . . had they [the group dancing in the Kirk yard] been queans, A1 plump and strapping in their teens. . . . I wad hae gi'en them off my hurdies, legs For ae blink o' the bonie burdies! (11.151-52,157-58) g irls

Apparently he is unable to sacrifice his own fleshly desires to the m oralistic lessons and is thus unable to follow his own rules. I t is because the speaker is so imaginatively involved in Tam's experiences that we know of the adventure. And the narrator is not merely reciting the details so that he can pass moral judgment; he becomes, unconsciously, caught up in the scene. He is responding sensually to the sight of curvaceous females. Even though he modestly insists that his Muse is unable to report on the , he almost

immediately describes it:

But here my Muse her wing maun cour; lower Sic flights are far beyond her pow'r; To sing how Nannie lap and flang, (A souple jade she was, and strang). . . . (1 1 .1 7 9 ff.)

Although he condemns Tam's drunken lechery, he also cheers Tam's escape: "Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg,/And win the key-stane of the brig" ( II 205-06)..

The narrator, who intrudes passages of lofty sermonizing, seems detached from participation in or sympathy for Tam's a c tiv itie s ; repeatedly, however, he indicates his involvement. The speaker is unable to maintain a consistent perspective. He is the detached and 61 morally superior observer, but he is also a participant riding

alongside Tam, admiring scantily attired women, and cheering Tam's escape. Within a single mind, we see the interplay between co n flic t­

ing views. The persona reveals himself as serious, prudent, and conservative in his moral judgments, and a staunch opposer of lu st, drunkenness, and irresp onsib ility—the very image of righteous superiority. Yet he conveys through vividly realistic description his own excitment at viewing the witches and his sympathy for Tam's danger. This persona, unable to reconcile both the moralistic and sensual facets of himself, is an object of Burns's mockery.

But what has created such a disunified character? Burns, by dramatizing the speaker's constant vacillation between decorous pru«- dence and excited participation, suggests the Kirk's teachings are one cause. The persona is trying to meet Calvinist expectations, but his natural sympathy for a man in danger, his aesthetic responses, and his belief in superstitions--in a word, his humanness--betray him.

Burns exposes the gap created by the persona's torturous struggle between what he feels and what he knows the Kirk wants him to feel.

We can sympathize with both his instinctual response to the experiences and with his surrender to religious pressures; but we must also harshly judge the system that creates in the speaker so much struggle, doubt, and pain,

Among the monologues appear some of Burns's best and best- known poems, such as "To a Louse," "Holy W illie 's Prayer," and "Tam o'

Shanter." Varying iri each of the monologues—among the early and later poetry--are the degrees of drama, of tension between the 62 reader's sympathy for and judgment of the speakers' viewpoints, of the discrepancy between the reader's and personae's understanding, of s k ill in delineating the personae; variations in tone exist as do differences in the poet's ability to merge form and satiric content. The la te r monologues do not, however, illu s tra te an increased mastery of the monologue's characteristics; the second of his monologues (the firs t fully realized dramatic monologue) is

"Holy W illie's Prayer"--none of his la te r s a tiric monologues is better.


Related to the monologue form is the dialogue (something of a dual monologue), which Burns uses infrequently for s a tiric attack.

In his early poetry, Burns has included two dialogues--"The Twa

Dogs" and "Death and Doctor Hornbook"; "The Brigs of Ayr" is the only example of the satiric dialogue in his later poems. In all three, the form develops the satire. None is conceived as a philosophical or Platonic dialogue in which the search for truth determines both purpose and means. Instead, their links are with 's and 1 fi 's dialogues. Into "The Twa Dogs" Burns inserts his already formed sympathy for the oppressed poor and his indictments of the indifferent, wasteful, arrogant rich; in "Death and Doctor Hornbook" the dialogue between a narrator-speaker and Death expresses Burns's previously conceived opinions of Hornbook's pretensions and vanity.

"The Brigs of Ayr" sim ilarly expounds Burns's beliefs about vanity 63

and incompetence. Thus, these are lik e Ciceronian dialogues in

their s im ilarity to essays expressing previously formulated ideas,

a rb itra rily put into dialogue form. In that the poems stress

description, "satire through simple characterization," and some

narrative elements, they also follow the Lucian tr a d itio n .^

Directly bearing on their s a tiric effectiveness are the degree of

dramatic conception of the characters, the creation of on-going con­

versation, and a framework that coheres with the dialogue itself.

Of the three, the most dramatically conceived conversation occurs in

"The Twa Dogs," which contains also the most effective satire.

"The Brigs of Ayr," the latest of the dialogues, is the poorest poem

of the three, the least credible, the least dramatic, and the least

cohesive; it is also the least effective as satire.

For each of these dialogues Burns constructs a frame, a device

he sometimes uses to suggest authenticity, to establish his own detachment from what he overhears, and to insert s a tiric comments

that foreshadow tone and content of the dialogues themselves. Pre­

dicting both the humor and the satiric attacks to follow are the speaker's remarks in "Death and Doctor Hornbook"; beginning with condemnation of "some books [th a t] are lies frae end to end" and ministers who have spoken a "rousing w hid[lie] . . . And nail 't w i' Scripture," he professes his own sincerity:

But this that I am gaun to tell, Which lately on a night befel, Is ju st as true's the D eil's in h _ ll, Or Dublin city. . . . (11.1-6,7-10)

Despite Burns's and the speaker's attempts to affirm the truthfulness 64 18 of the account, the analogy persuades us to doubt his authen­ ticity, as does the speaker's description of his inebriation and staggering gait (11.15-24). The framing device does not advance the action of the poem but does create some about the p a rti­ cular experiences the speaker w ill relate; moreover, i t prepares us for the rather incredible encounter with Death and establishes

Burns's s a tiric attitude.

In "The Twa Dogs" Bprns frames the dogs' discussion within passages of concrete description. The narrator, who Iqdates the site of the conversation, the time, and the participants, remains impersonal, simply a recorder. His description establishes the animal nature of the dogs. Ceaser was whelped abroad, wears a dog collar, mingles with other dogs, "An' stroan't [urinated] on stanes an' hillocks wi' him" (11.7-22). Luath,^ a brindled collie, possesses a "gawsie tail" which hangs over his "hurdies" [thighs]" (11.23-36).

Their ac tiv itie s are typical of dogs--chasing other animals and sniffing new tra ils . But the narrator, by his choice of details, alerts us to the dogs' parallels to humans. The comment that they are "na thrang [busy] at hame" suggests their links with the human plane. Ceasar is a "gentleman an' scholar," and the humanness of

Luath is implied, as Daiches notes, by the description that echoes 20 that of a medieval knight :

He was a gash an' fa ith fu ' ty k e , talkative As ever lap a sheugh, or dyke! trench; wall His honest sonsie, baws'nt fa c e , brindled Ay gat him friends in ilka place; His b re a s t was white, his towzie back , warm Weel clad w i' coat o' glossy black. . . . (11.29-34) 65

Ironically, however, whereas the beast fable is injurious to man

because i t suggests that animals act like humans and thus also

implies that people act like animals, Burns's poem shows the animals

cooperating better than their human counterparts and expressing

gratitude that "they were na men but dogs" (1.236). These two dogs

ignore the artificial barriers that separate the aristocracy and

the peasant; the use of dogs as mouthpieces thus intensifies the 21 s atire.

The major feature of the prefatory description in "The Brigs

of Ayr" is its stilted, philosophical tone, at odds with the Scots

and conversational effect in the dialogue itself. The frame

does not suggest the s a tiric nature of the dialogue or seek to con­

vince us to suspend disbelief about two bridges talking. The pre­

fatory passage (11.1-90) expends only one-third of its lines on

describing the bridges or setting a perspective from which we can hear

the conversation. The concluding passage (11.192-234) consists of a

lengthy description of a "fairy train"; at the sight of "white-rob'd

Peace" in the train, the bridges arbitrarily "forgat their kindling wrath," Both the beginning and end of the frame are a r tific ia l and

contrived, not preparing for the attacks or motivating the argument.

Except for establishing a concrete sense of place and trying to

establish authenticity, the frame serves l i t t l e purpose; i t and the

conversation itself have minimal relation in thought, tone, or language.

Looking more particularly at each conversation, we see that

in "The Twa Dogs" Burns uses the discussion between Ceasar and 66

Luath as his means of revealing his own opinions about the relation­

ships between the poor and the rich and between the humble peasantry

and the arrogant aristocracy. To enliven his indictments and avoid

an abstract account, he creates a concrete discussion between two

real dogs in a specific place. For the purposes of debate, Ceasar,

a nobleman's pet, is made the angry c ritic of the rich, the attacker

of their wastefulness (11.151-70), their arrogant insensitivity

(11.93-100), and their superficial activities designed to ward off

(11.205-28). Ceasar, the experienced and sophisticated and

cynical dog of the world, voices s a tiric condemnation of the rich

and powerful; he speaks for Burns. Luath, a cotter's dog, is

differentiated by his naivete' and inexperience and kind-hearted

acceptance of the superficial; he functions well as the curious but

unknowing whose doubts, questions, and ignorance prompt

Ceasar to attack the rich by citing examples and evidence.

By selecting animal personae, Burns can avoid the bitterness

or anger that might have been e x p lic it had a lord and peasant con­

versed. Yet, we feel the a r t if ic ia lit y of the choice of animal

personae. The descriptive details presented by the narrator character­

ize their animal qualities, but in the conversation itself Burns makes l i t t l e attempt to produce s a tiric exposures that evolve directly or logically from their animal natures. Dramatic potential

is undermined by the obviously arbitrary motive for opening the conversation; the dogs, tired of their play, stop to rest and start

"a lang digression/About the lords o' the creation1' (11.45-46). 67

Limiting the effectiveness of the poem also is the fact that although th eir conversation describes actions by the lords and the rustics, the actions are only general. There is no individualization of a lord or a peasant, nor is there any sense that the dogs comment on past action taken by specific persons in specific places; nor do they comment on some concrete present action which they are simul­ taneously observing and discussing. In this dialogue statement substitutes for action. There is, however, some dramatic effective­ ness in that each dog, once a rb itra rily characterized by Burns, speaks consistently; that is, no reader, once aware of which side each dog takes, could be confused as to which speaks other passages.

The fic tiv e conversation achieves liveliness and irony, as in Luath's compassion for the rich who oppress his class. And structuring the poem as a learning experience for Luath, who does change his opinions by the end of the discussion, allows Burns to suggest that the reader, lik e Luath, must discover the same truth; as we read we sense the drama of an immediate experience--Luath1s growth in knowledge.

Burns makes no overt judgments in this poem, leaving us to form our own conclusions based on the ideas exposed in the conversation. He is able to attack and teach more vividly and somewhat more dramatically than he could have in a poetic or prose simply lis tin g the abuses and labelling them unjust and cruel.

Despite unfulfilled dramatic potential, "The Twa Dogs" is far more dramatic in its presentation than is "Death and Doctor Hornbook," just barely definable as a dialogue. One side of the conversation 68 belongs to the speaker who recounts a past experience, swears the truth of his story, particularizes his location that evening, describes the physical appearance of the other speaker, and records his own speeches. The human speaker both establishes a frame of reference and also surimarizes his part in the dialogue. After his initial challenge to the strange figure, threats should Death try to cause harm, and agreement to converse with Death, the speaker in effect

"disappears" until in the last stanza he describes th eir parting.

Thus, there is no on-going conversation nor any exchange of views that would advance any action. The dialogue is essentially one­ sided. We never know what the speaker thinks of Hornbook nor of

Death's attacks on the doctor's incompetence and pomposity, We can only assume that the speaker, like the reader, is a neophyte learn­ ing new information and being taught to indict the doctor. To per­ ceive Burns's opinion, we must depend on Death's statements, for in

Death's examples and condemnation we find Burns's s a tiric point.

By lettin g Death voice the attacks, Burns avoids direct invective and avoids the charge of envy or meanness that might have been voiced had he chosen a human speaker much lik e himself. Furthermore, Death would be more familiar with the doctor's activities and voice a more comprehensive view than could a local v illag er.

Whether satiric effect is lost by the lack of a give-and-take discussion we cannot accurately judge; but the poem does lack drama and the dialogue becomes mostly a monologue, with Death expounding his own views of one man. Furthermore, the dialogue lacks unity of form, 69 for essentially it is two separate monologues, bridged by two brief conversational exchanges. The persona's monologue prepares us for the s a tiric point and the humor; Death's monologue conveys the specific evidence that has evoked Burns's censure. The dialogue comes to no particular end; one episode in the experience of the speaker and Death has concluded, but their conversation may again continue:

"But hark! I'll tell you of a , "Tho‘ dinna ye be speakin o 't; " I ' l l nail the self-conceited Sot, "As dead's a herrin. ..." (11.175-78)

Explanation of that plot must await another meeting, for the ringing of the Kirk bell brings us and the persona back to reality while

Death continues on his way.

Henderson comments that the poem is most memorable to us for its "amusingly re a lis tic of the physical and mental characteristics of an inebriated countryman, and its eerie yet sur­ passingly droll picture of the te rrib lesomething whose name was 22 'Death. '" The references to "exposition" and "characterization" accurately place this dialogue in the lucian-Cicero tradition. Burns has not presented this poem as an exchange of ideas from which either participant can discover the truth or from which Burns can formulate his own opinions. Instead, within this conversation recorded by the persona as past action, we and the speaker can recognize Hornbook's vanity and pretensions, in which Burns already firmly believed.

"The Brigs of Ayr," Burns's contribution to the debate between moderns and ancients so popular in the eighteenth century, records two 70 bridges' dispute about each other's merits. The dialogue has a con­ versational, informal quality, contributed by Scots dialect and such rhythmic lines as

Conceited gowk! puff'd u p w i1 windy pride!

Now haud you there! for faith ye've said enough, And muckle mair than ye can rnak to through, (11,107,174-75)

Each bragging of its merits, abusing the other's "personality" and architectural design, the two b i’ dges create an on-going conversation.

That is, once the Auld Brig begins the discussion, each responds directly to the other's statements, that response in turn evoking a rejoinder. Each speaks in relatively short passages, ranging from six to twenty-four lines Burns lets both bridges convey his views; he remains detached, letting the reader see the fallacies in each one's assertions. Although the conversation advances smoothly enough and makes the denigrating remarks appear to evolve naturally from these two speakers' characters, there is no apparent reason why two bridges, rather than two animals, or two persons, should speak.

And, as in Burns's earlier examples of the dialogue, he enunciates his satire clearly enough; but this poem has little unity, mainly because in language, tone, and ideas, the frame and the discussion do not cohere,

Burns recorded no reason for so infrequently using the dialogue form--or for using i t at a l l —but perhaps he recognized his own d iffic u ltie s with it . He is much mo^e accomplished when he writes monologues or epistles, in which he presents his one view of a given topic. He seems to write satire after he has decided his viewpoint, not as a means of discovering which of two sides is preferable.

Either he voices his bias for one side rather clearly--scorn for

Dr. Hornbook's pretense and rich people's cruelty--or scoffs at both sides. There vs not much subtlety in his dialogues. And he fa ils to take fu ll advantage of the dramatic potential in the dialogue form, although "The Twa Dogs" shows more proficiency than the other two exhibit. Yet, we cannot fault the dialogues for obscurity or for failure to make a satiric point; as vehicles for satire, they are clear, even i f not his most a rtis tic a lly developed poems,


Burns does write serious elegies, odes, and lamentations, and does, in some poems, stress heroic virtues; but he voices his s a tiric opinions in mock-poems, These burlesques serve him as "a species of indirect satire" which uses or imitates "serious matter or manner, made amusing by the creation of an incongruity between style and subject"; moreover, burlesque "achieves its end by creating a sense of the absurd because by serious standards the form does not f i t the ?3 theme, because the flesh and the s p irit a*e not one."- Burns, in his "rnock-poems" will either treat a serious subject frivolously or a trivial subject seriously. Among the early poetry "The Holy

Tulzie," "The Death and Dying Words of Poor M ailie," and "Poor 24 Mai lie 's Elegy" exemplify his usage of burlesque; later poems--

"Tam Samson's Elegy," "Monody on Maria," "Ode to Mrs. Oswald," and

"New Psalm "--illustrate continued application of the form but show 72 25 no significant alterations of pattern or increase in craft. His

selection of such forms as the ode or elegy becomes an essential part

of his s a tiric strategy: his attack is supported and intensified

because we know the "usual" contents of those forms and recognize the

incongruity between pattern and content.

"The first of my poetic offspring that saw the light was a

burlesque lamentation on a quarrel between two reverend C alvinists,"

Burns told Dr. Moore; he was describing "The Holy Tulzie," sometimes

printed with the subtitle, "An Unco Mournful Tale"{ L e tte rs , 1,114).

This mock-1amentation ridicules a local dispute about parish boundaries.

By devising a persona who speaks woefully of the acts of two ministers

and th eir congregations' loss and who censures the New Lichts, Burns

is using simple blame-by-praise. Satiric theme and elegiac form do

not coalesce any more than do the ministers' precepts and their

behavior; by treating a tr iv ia l subject seriously, Burns has generated

a sense of the absurd. The persona establishes his attitude of

sorrow by lamenting the fate of the "pious, godly Flocks" whom other

animals w ill now prey on because the "two best Herds . . ./That e'er

gae gospel horns a blast" have "had a b itte r , black /Atween

themsel" (11.1-12). Burns, however, in his headnote to the poem

enunciates his ironic tone as well as his satiric target: "Blockheads with reason wicked abhor,/But Fool with Fool is barbarous c iv il 26 war.--Pope." Into this burlesque, Burns injects animals, scenes

and actions common to in order to form a not very subtle

; the pastoral imagery permeates the poem as does the very 73 generalized use of animal parallels- This poem is frequently c riti­ cized by some who consider it too local and limited in its attack to have much appeal to a modern audience; but its concreteness and dependence on specific references are the qualities that make its attack on hypocrisy and cruelty meaningful. I t may not be Burns's best satire, but its burlesque lamentation derives v ita lity from the poet's use of Scots idioms, the Standard Habbie stanza, sustained ironic reversal, and careful attention to concrete details.

In "Death and Dying Words" and "Poor M ailie's Elegy" Burns is w riting mock-elegy as a means to c ritic iz e certain foibles of people and to expose the elegy's often false and excessive sentimen- 27 t a lit y . John Weston asserts that Burns is the f ir s t Scots to write a mock-elegy in which there is a "totally-informing ironic 28 polarity betweenre s and v e r b a Burns does not consciously any particular classical or English formal elegies or use the classi­ cal elegiac meter, He merely works from the generalized concept of an elegy as a formal meditation on death or some sim ilarly serious theme. His elegies, however, express no serious mourning.

In his earliest mock-elegy, "Death and Dying Words of M ailie," he focuses on M ailie's speech. The narrator informs us that M ailie, a sheep, has strangled in her tether and is now addressing her dying words of advice and insight to Hughoc, a dim-witted shepherd. Usually a human witness tends to increase the pathos, but by not allowing

Hughoc to express any words of sorrow and making him a h alf-w it whose responses might be viewed as untrustworthy, Burns avoids and 74 even mocks any hint of genuine sentiment. Deathbed statements, which

people generally view with seriousness, are travestied by Burns's

characterization of the speaker. Serious discussions of important

issues—agricultural methods, Calvinism's restrictions, sexual morality, educational concepts— are reduced to the when voiced by a sheep. The excessive sentimentality— "but waes my heart"—

indicates that Burns speaks ironically, mocking tritely conventional moral advice. Burns emphasizes the mocking tone of his piece by juxtaposing M ailie's lo fty desires and conventional advice, voiced in elevated though vague language, against her pragmatic and specific

instructions, expressed in idiomatic Scots. These two passages

illu s tra te that s ty lis tic and semantic contrast:

Tell him, he was a Master kin', An' ay was guid to me an' mine; An' now my d yin g charge I gie him, My helpless lambs , I trust them wi' him. (11.25-28)

0, bid him save their harmless lives, Frae dogs an' tods, an' butchers' knives! foxes But gie them guidaow -m ilk their fill, Till they be fit to fend themsel; An' tent them duely, e'en an' morn, Wi' taets o' hay an' ripps o' c o rn . (11.29-34) tu fts; handfuls

The poem attacks both by frivolously treating what, inother poems, may be viewed as serious matters and by depicting seriously the death of a mere sheep. Not a corrosive indictment of humans' advice to others or of serious problems, the poem is permeated with gentle humor.

Taking a slightly different approach to the same subject, Burns creates a discrepancy between style and subject in "Poor Mailie's 75

Elegy." The excessive pathos conveys mockery; the t r iv ia l—-a sheep's

death--is mourned so extravagantly that the piece becomes bathetic,

as established in the opening lines:

Lament in , lament in prose, Wi1 saut tears trickling down your nose; Our B a rd ie 's fate is at a close, Past a* remead! remedy The last, sad cape-stane of his woes; coping-stone Poor M ailie's dead!

Burns mockingly inflates the importance of this ewe's death by over­

emphasizing the sheep's affection (11.13-18), by accentuating the

speaker's exaggerated g rie f (11.1-6,45-48), and by inserting

inappropriate diction and sentiments:

For her forbears were brought in ships, Frae 'yont the TWEED. . . . Wae worth that man wha f ir s t did shape, That vile, wanchancie thing--a ra e p l (11.33-38) dangerous

In both of these mock-elegies Burns mingles standard English and Scots dialect, the latter adding a coarse, earthy touch of realism appropriate to the subject. The Standard Habbie form and the repetition of "dead" as the last word in each stanza provide "Poor

M ailie's Elegy" with a buoyant, cheerful to ta lly unsuitable

to any serious elegy. The presence of the word "dead" in an elegy

is not unusual; in this poem, however, the word does not stress the sorrow of loss but cumulatively builds an ironic emphasis. The rhythm and the lively diction give an animation to the poem that is

not necessarily out of place in an elegy i f counterpointed by sober meditation. But here the only contrast to the liveliness is given

by the of inappropriate sentiments: 76

I t maks guid fellows girn an' gape, grimace Wi1 chokin dread; An' Robin*a bonnet wave w i' crape For Mailie dead, (11.39-42)

Sim ilarly, in "Death and Dying Words" the rhyming couplets of tetrame­

ter lines lend an almost sing-song effect. An abundance of Scots

idioms and the merry, fast-moving verse help define the incongruity between the expected tone and content of an elegy and the amusingly

s a tiric style of the mock-elegy. Although among the early poems

there are few examples of Burns's burlesques, he has exhibited his

understanding of the basic characteristics and his a b ility to use

the "mock-poem" as a means of satire. Indeed, liv e ly and good-

natured humor, structural cohesion, w it, and vividly concrete language make these two mock-elegies delightful poems as well as good examples

of Burns's a b ilitie s in burlesque.

In his later poetry Burns repeats, with minor variations, the

usage of the mock-elegy and adapts his s a tiric s p irit to the mock-ode, mock-encomiurn, and mock-heroic, As clear in their satiric direction as they are, they do not exhibit increased s k ill in use of burlesque, just some minor alterations in approach and technique. In the later

poetry, for example, mock-elegies reappear. Sim ilarly to his approach

in "Death and Dying Words" Burns incorporates exaggerated praise and sorrow in "Tam Samson's Elegy." He also includes two other character­

istics: inversion of the conventional elegiac formula that "all

Nature mourns" and praise of a man not yet dead. As in the e a rlie r mock-elegies, sentimental and pretentious mourning are amusingly and

generally burlesqued. 77

Merging techniques developed in his early mock-elegies and the

bitter tone apparent in some of his early monologues and epistles,

Burns directs a scathing attack against Maria Riddell in "Monody on

Maria." He reverses the expected features of an elegy in that Maria 29 is not dead and in his failu re to praise her:

How cold is that bosom which fo lly once fire d , How pale is that cheek where the rouge la te ly glistened; How s ile n t that tongue which the echoes o ft tire d , How dull is that ear which to flattery so 1istened.--(ll.1-4)

Her mourners will be "offspring of folly" and the flowers will be

"idle weed[s]" and "chiefly the nettle" (11.11,13-15). Her epitaph

w ill describe her vanity, In short, no one really mourns her. Burns's

poem, expressing people's lack of grief over her death, combines

straightforward lampooning and indirect burlesque. His elegy for

the dead Mrs. Oswald is sim ilarly harsh. Here Burns is not treating

a serious subject trivially, for he is quite serious in his scorn

for her; that scorn and his rather vulgar abuse of the woman

establish a corrosive tone. The non-elegiac elegy, celebrating her

loss rather than mourning i t , takes the form of a Pindaric ode, with , , and ; Burns is combining the serious

style of the ode and the non-eulogistic comments as a way to create

satire. Both of these poems, though certainly expressing the poet's attack clearly, lack wit or good and exemplify Burns's vindictive­

ness rather than any desire to amuse or reform or instruct.

Continuing his pattern of burlesque by approaching serious

topics with a frivolous attitude and scoffing tone, Burns writes a mock-encomium: "A New Psalm for the Chapel of Kilmarnock." Here 78

Burns parodies the Presbyterian and the sentiments

of Psalm 1 44:^

0, SING a new Song to the L ! Make, a ll and every one, A joyful noise, ev'n for the king His R estoratio n11.1-4)

His intent is neither to denigrate the Bible nor the psalter; pre­

tending praise, he ridicules King George Ill's recuperation from a bout of madness. Rather than the exaggerated sorrow characterizing

"The Holy Tulzie," this persona voices exaggerated joy; but in both poems, Burns relies on ironic reversal. The burlesque form helps to convey his attack against the king and other p o litic a l leaders who poorly served the country.

Burns's burlesque poems are not his more memorable nor his more s k illfu lly shaped poems, although he infuses them with lucid enunciations of his satiric points. He uses the burlesque always as a medium of criticism--of individuals' flaws, of other poets' triteness or simulation, of some poetic types' conventionality. At their best, in theU criticism they offer to us both amusement and instruction; in cleverness, w it, cohesiveness, and interest, the three early burlesques are his most successful achievements.


Burns's later poetry is dominated in quantity by the songs he wrote for George Thompson's and James Johnson's collections. The majority of them are not s a tiric . But those that are, such as the 79

Heron election , some of theMerry Muses o f Caledonia group,

"Dean o f the Faculty," and "Such a Parcel of Rogues," have been pre­ pared for by a few s a tiric songs among the early poetry. Although quantitatively the later group is. impressive, the quality of the early songs indicates that he has learned early how to use them as vehicles of satire. "The Fornicator" and "When Guilford Good" illustrate a firm control of the tune and lyric; especially notable is his achievement in "Love and Liberty." The Scottish folk tunes that Burns uses for satire are of two principal types: the reel, a quick-moving dance usually in 4/4 time, has a smoothly flowing rhythm; 31 the strathspey, sometimes using the ' snap,' is a slower dance with many dotted notes and a less smoothly flowing rhythm.

In b rie f, a Scots folk song has a simple melody, maintains the same pace and pitch, repeats a word at the ends of lines, and adapts well 32 to parallel expressions of the same emotion. Analysts of his songs have focused on their musicality, the degrees of traditional and original material in them, and his decision to devote much of his poetic effort after 1787 to the song; these are not, however, the major concerns here. By looking at their verbal and rhythmical patterns, their use of refrains, the characteristics of the tunes themselves, the personae, dramatic scenes, and structures, we can assess Burns’s application of melody and verse to satire.

His earliest satiric song, "When Guilford Good," is set to the tune "The Earl of Glencairn's"; its ly ric shows prominent musical references even i f words and tune are separated. Every second line 80 ends with "man," every alternate lin e uses , sub­ stituting for the lack of end ryhme, and all the lines have a pro­ nounced, almost sing-song, iambic beat. In this strathspey each second line, with "man" concluding the unit of thought, ends a melodic pattern. Throughout the nine-stanza song the "aw" sound, in such words as "thraw," "jaw," "America," and "law," always precedes the repeated "man"; a repetitious pattern develops that is echoed in the melody because the notes for "man" and "aw" are the same. Burns is describing a series of actions taken by British generals and politicians during the ; these actions, which others viewed seriously, even sadly, reveal the incompetence of the

British leaders. Burns undermines any solemn or grieving by the qualities of his verse and tune. The repetition of words and melodic motifs, the internal the , and the liv e ly tempo a ll present a happy unconcern for the failures he records.

Thus, the disparity between the subject and the song develops the satiric point. •

In "The Fornicator" Burns turns to a different sort of target and to a more self-revealing persona, one who is not ju st commenting but who is intimately involved in what he describes. The most distinctive characteristic of "Clout the Caldron" is its staccato rhythm. Notes are rarely linked but are frequently repeated (as in the first full measure which consists of dotted eighth notes, the middle six of which are C). Within each stanza the last word is always "Fornicator," musically given an upward run that suggests the 81

singer's happiness and that boldly accents the word. Internal rhyme

is randomly placed in at least two lines per stanza, helping link

each stanza together„ Four of the six stanzas develop an ironic

contrast, exemplified by

Before the Congregation wide I pass'd the muster fa ir ly , My handsome Betsey by my side, We gat our d itty rarely; But my downcast eye by chance did spy What made my lips to water, Those limbs so clean where I , between, Commenc'd a Fornicator. (11.9-16)

This contrast is accented by the s h ift in the tune, a fter the fourth

lin e , to a higher and to a melodic variation. The tune is much like a chant that tends to give equal weight to a ll the words, sounding lik e someone pounding on metal. The hammering staccato of

the tune is appropriate to a tinker's profession; perhaps i t is straining a point to suggest that Burns views fornicating as a kind of profession or that he is aware of the parallels between the rhythm of the tune and the rhythm of sexual intercourse. Whether he matched lyrics and tune for these reasons does not preclude our awareness of the irony. Certainly the brash, swaggering pronouncement that "I am a Fornicator" keynotes the description and defense of the sexual experience; the lively tempo does not disguise nor soften but empha­ sizes the impact of the words. Burns is flaunting his a c tiv itie s in the face of Kirk disapproval, thus mocking their restrictions; his mockery is particularly obvious in the last stanza: 82

Your warlike Kings and Heros bold, Great Captains and Commanders; Your mighty C&sars fam'd of old, And Conquering Alexanders; In fields they fought and laurels bought And bulwarks strong did batter, But s t ill they grac'd our noble li s t And ranked Fornicator!!!

In tune, image, and language he brashly and vigorously thrusts at

the sham of the Kirk's repressions.

Burns chooses "Clout the Caudron" as one of eight tunes for

his most ambitious attempt with songs: "Love and Liberty--A Cantata."

He has combined eight songs, a detached but sympathetic narrator, 33 a specially chosen scene, recitativos in varied stanzaic patterns,

seven active participants, and satiric commentary. All this is

molded into a structural pattern that advances a thread of events,

from the initial description of the warmth in Poosie Nansie's tavern

to the climatic finale in which all sing their defiance of outside society. The connective tissue between the songs consists of the 34 recitativos, in which the narrator describes and dramatizes the

"jo lly beggars" and their actions. For example, these lines elucidate the relationship between the soldier and his doxy as well as lead

into the f ir s t song:

She blinket on her Sodger: An' ay he gies the tozie drab warm or tipsey; whore The tith e r skelpan kiss, smacking While she held up her greedy gab, mouth Just like an aumous dish: alms' dish Ilk smack s till, did crack s till, Just like a cadger's whip; travelling hawker Then staggering, an' swaggering, He roar'd this ditty up--(11.20-28) 83

The interludes record the listeners' responses to each song, introduce the next singer, and draw the reader into the scene; mainly, by showing interrelationships among the characters and among the tunes, they help to prevent the poem from being ju st a series of eight d ifferent songs. Aiding coherence also is Burns's a b ility to make both lyrics and melody fit and reveal the characters of the singers.

All of these songs show Burns's careful attention to unity through rhyme, melodic repetitions, and repeated refrains. For example, in

"Soldier's Joy" the first and third lines of the and of the chorus repeat the same melodic line; the f ir s t and third lines use internal rhyme; the second and fourth lines have end rhyme; and the "sound of a drum" appears at the end of each and the chorus. In "Whistle owre the lave o 't" the refrain (same as the t i t l e ) , the AAAX rhyme pattern, repeated melodic motifs, and parallel structures give unity. More specific examination of the songs reveals how carefully Burns organizes the assorted materials, matches song to singer, and makes his satiric point.

The soldier, who calls himself a "son of Mars," stalks forward to "roar this ditty" (11.27-28). His experiences in battle and love and his loss of an arm and a leg are explained in a simple, fast- moving tune, "Soldier's Joy," marked "allegro." The tempo and accented beat, especially in the chorus, reinforce the thrust of his words: his pride in being a soldier and his boast, "I could meet a tropp of HELL at the sound of a drum" (1.48). Words and sounds also help one another because the repeated "of a drum" is 84 sung on the same notes. The simple tune has a regular, repetitive beat, suggesting perhaps the marching cadence of an arrny. Nothing in the words or tune suggests that the soldier protests war or his discharge by the army. But implied in the description of his eager­ ness to fight for his country despite his physical handicaps are two questions: what has merited such loyalty? why has his country discarded him as useless?

After resounding applause from the group, "up arose the

CHUCK [sweetheart]," the soldier's woman. She too sings a quick- moving reel, boldly describing her past life as a lover to "the regiment AT LARGE"; "Sodger Laddie" is marked by a quick tempo and emphatic reiteration of the melodic theme. Phrases such as "sanctified sot" suggest her mockery of her chaplain lover's hypocrisy; the tune, which stresses those words, emphasizes her contempt. She expresses no shame, self-pity, or regret for her life in the melody or lyrics.

Instead, in this lively tune she flaunts her amorality (or so society would label i t ) . Despite losses, beggary, and social , she can still defy:

And s t ill I can jo in in a cup and a song; But whilst with both hands I can hold the glass steady, Here's to thee, MY HERO, MY SODGER LADDIE. (11.78-80)

Hers and the soldier's songs are sim ilar in their tempo, pronounced rhythmical beat, candid revelations, and defiant non-repentance. The fast-moving tunes define the singers' self-images; had Burns chosen solemn, slow paces, he would encourage us to view them as s e lf- pitying complainers. He lets them place no blame on themselves or 85

others but leaves us to wonder about the army and society that thrust

them into their beggary.

Burns's next song is somewhat d iffere n t, for Merry Andrew 35 sings b itte rly about himself and others. The key word is "fool,"

repeated in each stanza and receiving the main beat of each measure

in which i t appears. To the tune of "Auld Sir Symon," marked

"gravely," he describes various fools, leading to the climax:

And now my conclusion I ' l l t e ll, For faith I'm confoundedly dry: The chiel that's a fool for himsel, fellow Guil L d, he's far dafter than I.

Daiches comments that this conclusion "strikes a deft balance between or satire and self-mockery." More explicitly satiric are two earlier


Poor Andrew that tumbles for sport copulates Let nae body name w i' a jeer; There's even, I'm tauld, i ' the Court A Tumbler ca'd the Premier.

Observ'd ye yon reverend lad Mak faces to tickle the Mob; He ra ils at our mountebank squad, Its rivalship just i' the job.

Significantly, the slow tempo of this b itte r expression helps under­

line the mournful, self-pitying tone while not mitigating the

satiric bite.

Combining elements of the preceding tunes—brisk tempo, defiant unwillingness to buckle under adversity, and elegiac overtones—

the "raucle carlin" [old, rough woman] begins "wi' sighs an' sobs"

to "wail her braw JOHN HIGHLANDMAN" (11.81-88). Burns creates ironic contrast by juxtaposing her description of her lover who was killed 86

by the law and her sorrow at his loss with a chipper, bouncy tune,

"0, an' ye were dead Gudeman." Perhaps the strongly accented and

fast-paced melody points to her defiance; sorry he is dead, she

expresses no sorrow that she loved him or that he was a criminal,

nor is she submerged in s e lf-p ity . Even when she sings "And now

a Widow I must mourn/The Pleasures that w ill ne'er return," she does

not sound bitter or excessively sad—because the tune's cheerful

quickness overrides potential elegy. The suggestion of the tune—a .

cheerfulness amid mourning—is stressed later when she immediately

accepts the tinker's offer to be her lover.

The two women's songs having raised the question of love,

the fiddler steps forward to sing a liv e ly love song of his own:

Then in an ARIOSO key, The wee Apollo Set of w i' ALLEGRETTO glee His GIGA SOLO-(11 .125-28)

Taken with the c a rlin 's charms, he urges her to "Whistle owre the

lave o't" with him. The liveliness of the reel fits with the fiddler's optimistic vision of their life together. Not until later do we see any irony in this profession of love; when the tinker

threatens violence, the fid d ler drops a ll claims to the carlin, drinks to their health, and takes one of the bard's women "Behind

the Chicken cavie" where he "RAK'D her, FORE AND AFT" (11.151-60,

187-89,192-93). The cheeriness of his tune outweighs the protesta­

tion of impassionate devotion, for loss of one woman does not diminish his high spirits. The fiddler's rival is a tinker* His tune, "Clout the Caudron with its staccato rhythm and emphatic beat, is well suited to one who makes his living hammering metal. The abrupt emphases also pound home his admission of deceit and his imprecations against the fid d le r, "that SHRIMP, that withered IMP" (11 .169-73). The turie is very fast-moving, as i f echoing not only his speed in hammering but also the speed of his interest and claim to the carlin. The fast tempo cancels any intimations of regret for his deceptions or his poverty; instead, it better fits his manner of swearing loyalty to the woman and of abusing the fid d ler.

The bard, who is described as "a care-defying blade" who hates only to be sad, ends any r ifts among the group and changes the tempo (11.199-205). His song, to the tune of "For a' that an' a' that" has a slow tempo. After the observer's description, one expects a jaunty, defiant outburst; the slowness underlines the gravity of his theme. Stating, without indication of anger or regret that "I AM A BARD of no regard," and describing his lack of poetic training, he turns to an exuberant and graphic account of what pleases him most: sex and beautiful young women. Society's dis­ regard for his poetry and disapproval of his sexual morals apparently bother him not at a ll. In fact, "An1 a' that an' a' that" after so much repetition (in every quatrain and chorus) begins to sound like a sneer, a dismissal of anyone or anything that tries to restrain or 37 judge him. This la s t song by an individual introduces the theme that the group's final tune w ill develop: independence and freedom from demands on or by others. 88

"Impatient for the chorus," the whole group shouts out a drink­

ing song, "Jolly Mortals, f i l l your glasses" (1.249). Each has within

his or her song challenged the sham and cruelty of society; now they

do so as one united voice. The simple melody has a fast tempo, a

regular, even staccato beat that pronounces their defiance of the

scornful world outside:

A fig for those by LAW protected, LIBERTY'S a glorious feast! COURTS for Cowards were erected, CHURCHES built to please the Priest. (11.278-81)

The first two lines of each quatrain establish a melodic line which

the next two lines repeat until the second word of line four; there

a s h ift to a higher octave provides emphasis. I t is a "deliberate,

almost marchlike melody in common time, with something of the

quality of a about it; i t is precisely suited for this kind

of final chorus, for though as a tune i t lacks character i t has 38 exactly the right kind of emphasis." Bentman adds that "the ju s ti­

fication of sexual license within the form of a hymn . . . asserts

that religion and sexual pleasure often cannot he separated and the

insistence that they always can be is self-delusion and hypocrisy. 39 Sexual license . . . can . . . become part of a true religion."

Read as individual units rather than joined with their tunes and each other, only two of the songs--Merry Andrew's and the

combined groups's-~contain obvious s a tiric statements. When words

are tied to mulsic, though, we realize that ironic contrasts appear

in the songs by the soldier's doxy, the bard, and the soldier. In

the poem's totality—scene, characters, tunes, recitativos, structural 89 pattern—Burns reveals the fullness of his satiric commentary, A phrase here and there (such as "sanctified sot"), antithetical tunes and words, the whole picture of these outcasts who can be jolly, defiant, and self-accepting—these contribute to an overall impression of im plicit satire. Burns does not summarize nor directly attack; it is his dramatization that conveys the attack on conventional society.

None of the later songs appears in a grouping so complex or so organically unified as "Love and Liberty." Most develop more trivial topics of limited appeal than do the early songs; the bawdy songs in particular are mainly "sophomoric" in conception and development, except for the rather clever "Ode to Spring." These s a tiric songs, just a few of the over three hundred songs that

Burns worked on a fter 1786, do clearly convey Burns's attacks. We can look at these la te r pieces under three headings: those with governmental and p o litical targets; those with tunes used in the early group of s a tiric songs; and those "bawdy" songs that challenge conventional morality. In these Burns is using topics and techniques sim ilar to those he developed in the early s a tiric songs.

In " I ' l l Tell You a Tale of a Wife" Burns adapts one of the tunes in "Love and Liberty." Whereas the slow tempo of "Auld Sir

Symon" in the ea rlie r poem corresponded with the bitterness of Merry

Andrew's words, the tune and the new lyrics contrast iro n ically.

Certainly the wife is upset about a problem-- 90

Poor womans she gaed to the Priest, And t i l l him she made her complaint; "There's naething that troubles my breast Sae sair as the sins o' my .-" (1 1 .5 -8 )

I t is not her complaint that provides the focus, however, but the

introduction of a series of actions that illu s tra te Burns's mockery

of the lecherous and hypocritical minister whose advice culminates

with his copulation with her. The very regular rhythm of the tune

gives unity to this slight narrative, as do the ABAB

and the repetition o f (the last "word" of each stanza is always

left blank, but rhyme and content indicate that the word is "cunt").

Words, sounds, and tune a ll move forward to the observer's final


Then high to her memory charge; And may he who takes i t affront, S till ride in Love's channel at large, And never make port in a !!! (11.41-44)

The solemn pace of the melody might suit a minister's advice; but

this poem's tempo and content contrast, the slow rhythm emphasizing the minister's immoral advice and actions. He not only distorts the

teachings of Christ but uses the woman as a sex object.

More candid about his sexuality is the speaker in "They Took

Me to the Haly Band." Burns again borrows a tune, "Clout the Caudron," from "Love and Liberty" and from "The Fornicator." The staccato emphases, the repetition of melodic motifs, the reiterated vowel sound in "Sir," arid cheerful briskness the speaker's uncon­ cern for any penalties threatened by the Kirk Session; his final words— "As lang as she cou'd keep the g rip /I aye was m g at her"—

flaunt his disregard for Kirk . 91

Burns takes one more tune from "Love and Liberty" for la te r songs. He re-uses "For a' that an' a' that" as the tune of "The

Bonniest Lass," in which the repeated refrain as well as straight­ forward invective expresses defiance of the judgments of others:

The bonniest lass that ye meet neist Gie her a kiss an' a' that, In spite o' ilka parish priest, Repentin' stool, an' a' that. (11.1-4)

Defending his advice, the speaker notes that "patriarchs in days o' yore," such as King David and King Solomon, were lusty womanizers.

The regular beat, repeated refrain, and rhyme scheme lead to the final point of his argument against sexual restraints: even if the "priest consign him to the dei1,/As reprobate an1 a' that," a man "shou'd kiss a lass, an1 a' that" because the priests "ken nae mair wha's reprobate/Than you or I, for a' that." But when Burns adapts the same tune to the lyrics of the first of the "Heron ballads," another of the later poems, he uses the refrain not as an expression of scorn but as an illu s tra tio n of Heron's superiority to his p o li­ tic a l opponent:

To paughty Lordlings shall we jouk, bow And i t against the law, that: For even a Lord may be a gowk, fool Tho' sprung frae kings and a' that. For a' that and a' that, Here's Heron yet for a' that; A lord may be a lousy loun, rascal Wi' ribband, star and a' th a t.--(ll.24-32)

Regardless of whether Burns adapts this tune's refrain to lyrics about sex, p o litics , or humanity in general, healways defies--in words and in the melody's accents--those who would restrain in di­ vidual freedom of action. 92

Three other songs discuss the same "Heron election" although

each introduces new melodies- "Fye le t us a' to the bridal" is a

tune which Burns labels "highly pleasing" to him because i t is

"simple and native" (L e tte r s, 11,210-11). The lyrics simply record a series of names and identifying remarks, most of them mocking:

And there w ill b e ses doughty, Douglasses New-christening towns far and near; Abjuring their democrat doings By kissin the a of a P e e r. (11.25-28)

He is not building to any climax and apparently arranges stanzas in

no particular order. The tune, with its steady beat and repeated melodic lin e , helps link the stanzas, as do the rhyme scheme and parallel structures. The tune is simple and pleasant, but i t neither adds to nor detracts from the s a tiric import of the words themselves.

A more complicated piece, "Johnie B 's Lament," satirizes the same target: incompetent and deceitful politicians. This song has a persona whose views are the reverse of Burns's, a concrete sense of time and place, and a single purpose. Such elements sub­ stitute for the absence of unifying links, such as a refrain, a consistent rhyme pattern, and a coherent organizational pattern. This slow-moving, simple tune, ending in a minor key, fits a lament; the tune's solemnity iro n ically contrasts with Burns's informal attack on his political foes. The last of the "Heron Ballads," however, is much more interesting and accomplished. The tune, "Buy broom

Besoms," has a regular, brisk, repetitious tempo. Linked to this energetic dance is a peddler's description of what he carries: 93

Here's a noble Earl's Fame and high renown, For an auld sang— It 's thought the Gudes were stown. (11.9-12)

There is no obvious order to the , but the poem gains

some unity from the single and consistent persona, a uniform rhyme

pattern, repeated notes that emphasize certain words (such as "Buy

Braw"), and reiteration of the melody in the first two lines of each quatrain. The cheery tune contrasts with the import of the peddler's charges that the individuals lack honor, conscience, honesty, piety.

Although each of the four "Heron election ballads" delivers a clear attack, this last one illustrates the most skillful satiric merging of tune and lyrics.

Speaking of a different sort of election, Burns uses

"Gilliecrankie" in "Extempore, Court of Sessions" and "The Fite

Champetre." I t is a very liv e ly , fast-paced dance tune, high­ lighted by connected notes and varied . In "Extempore" the briskness accents the description of the two advocates' struggles with logic and ideas. Burns f ir s t describes Lord Campbell:

Till in a declamation-mist, His argument he tin t it : He gaped for 't , he graped for 't , He fand i t was awa, man. . „ ,,(11.3-6)

He ridicules Erskine just as pointedly, by comparing his speaking to "wind-driv'n hail" and to "torrents owre a lin [waterfall]"

(11.13-14). The energetic tune supplies the interest and vitality absent from the debate between the advocates and thus stresses the poet's mockery of each man. Because of the tune's octave jumps and rapid movements up and down the scale, i t seems particularly suited 94

to the questions that comprise the f ir s t ten lines of "The F£te

Champetre." I t is so cheerful a tune that i t dulls any b itte r or angry tone in such questions as "Come, w ill ye court a noble Lord,/

Or buy a score o' Lairds, man?" (11.9-10). The bulk of this song is

not s a tiric , for the five stanzas describing a pastoral scene convey 40 no attack of anyone.

In another group of Burns's s a tiric songs, a pastoral scene again dominates. Even the names of the tune, "The tith e r morn," and the song, "Ode to Spring," suggest a nature lyric. The lively tempo- aided by internal rhyme, reiteration of "Sir," and an emphatic beat— could f i t a love song describing an early morning scene enacted by two lovers. Those expectations are shattered by the opening lines:

"When maukin bucks, at early f s ,/In dewy glens are seen." To this vigorous rhythm, the speaker is describing the sexual in ter­ course between Damon and Sylvia, themselves fornicating to the rhythm of the birds' songs: "The wild-birds sang, the echoes rang,,/While

Damon's a_se beat time" (11.15-16). Each stanza, joined by the repeated "Sir" and a uniform rhyme scheme, leads to the climactic end: "T ill Damon, fierce, mistim'd his a ,/And f 'd quite out o' tune, Sir." Within this brief song, Burns has created a concrete scene and participants, recorded a sequence of events leading to a credible conclusion, ridiculed sentimental love lyrics and the banality of other poets' "odes to spring"; the sprightly tune accents the joy of the lovers and the observer while defying any who might object. This song illustrates Barke's theories about Scots bawdry: 95

it is "never sneering or sly or prurient or sexy or titillating. It 41 is almost always blunt and broad and extremely coarse. . . ."

Others of Burns's bawdy-satiric songs show sim ilar features as well as mock those who voice moral or legal objections. For example, Burns combines a chorus repeating "0 wha'll m_w me now, my jo ," a female persona, coarse language, and the tune "Coming thro' the rye" into a criticism of the narrow-mindedness of others, The speaker, now pregnant and derided by others, b itte rly asks why "our dame hauds [holds] up her wanton tail" but receives no criticism.

Her major complaint, though, is that she is pregnant and there w ill be no one "to m_w me now." The grave, regular pace of the tune underlines her sadness tinged with anger. More cheerful is the tune

"O'er the muir amang the heather," b e fittin g the speaker's nonchalant attitude about the punishment inflicted upon fornicators ("Act

Sedurant of the Session"). Instead of scorning the injustice of his situation, as the female does in "Wha'll M_w," he gleefully awaits the punishment:

And they've provided dungeons deep, Ilk lass has ane in her possession; U ntill the wretches wail and weep, They there shall lie for their transgression. —(11.9-12)

His attitude of ridicule and unconcern is suggested by the bouncy tune, belying his pretended fear of the Session's threat: "The rogues in pouring tears shall weep,/By act Sederunt o' the Session"

(11.15-16). Weeping may be what the Kirk expects, but this speaker sees only the benefits of the punishment. In fact, in the rhymes of such words as "transgression" and "session" he suggests who i t is that commits the real violation. Burns's statement about "Act

Sedurant of the Session," that i t is a "BAUDY-SONG to make me merry,"

is supported by the tune and speaker's words { L e tte rs , 11,212).

Also given bawdy ly ric s , "The Campbells are coming" is a gay song recounting the abuses of "Princes and Prelates and het-headed zealots" who in sist on making war. The internal rhymes and the repetition of "mowe" add to the musicality, with the la tte r indicating Burns's emphases. The liv e ly tune conveys Burns's disdain for warmongers 42 while insisting how unimportant they are.

Several features appear in most of Burns's s a tiric songs: frequent dependence on refrains, on a single repeated word, and on rhyme patterns that increase the effect of a melody; an ability to select melodies of varied tempos according to tone and purpose; an ability to create ironic contrasts between tempo and lyrics. Such characteristics pervade the early songs as well as the later. Con­ sistently in each song he is able to combine the rhythms of words and melodies, a structural pattern, persona, sounds of vowels and consonants, refrains, repetitions that build cumulative effects, and satiric ideas. Burns shows early his talent in adapting the song to s a tiric attack. Later pieces show no pronounced differences in the use of the vehicles; furthermore, in no later song does he attempt to interrelate several songs into a unified whole as in "Love and Liberty." CHRISTIS KIRK

Illu s tra tin g the fullness of Burns's s a tiric s k ill in the

early poetry, for it is a form not used in later satires, is the

vehicle we can call Christis Kirk or description/manners-.

The poems include speakers who describe and thus shape our in te r­

pretation; but the poems' foci fa ll on the events, scenes, and

participants, not on the characteristics or views of the speakers. 43 Each of the three main examples of this form--"The Holy Fair, 44 "Halloween," and "The Ordination"—uses the Christis Kirk stanza.

A d istin ctly Scots form, the Christis Kirk is "the poetry of 45 revelry or of festive occasions." It has also been pointed out that

The method of description is for the poet to give a total impression of the whole crowded and colorful scene of holiday merriment, confusion, horseplay, , drunkenness, practical joking, and good-natured abandon through high-lighting carefully chosen details. The poem is usually given structure and coherence through the introduction of a few rapidly sketched characters who lend specific human interest to the scene and provide the basis for a slender thread of narrative. In all cases the scene is described from the point of view of an amused spectator who takes no part in the action and is presumably on a higher social and intellectual level than the rustic merrymakers. The poem is swift-paced, with rapid and frequent transitions, full of robust movement and vivid d e ta il.46

The form effectively supports humorous satire in each of the poems which i t is used.

The f ir s t and best-known of Burns's Christis Kirk poems is

"The Holy Fair," a description of the people and a c tiv itie s at a 98 large religious meeting attended by hundreds who supposedly come to celebrate Holy Communion, hear preaching, and reaffirm their commitment to God. One commentator has observed that "inevitably,

'The Occasion,' as it was popularly called, became a sort of de­ generated secular fa ir , with alcohol, religious enthusiasm, and simple licentiousness each playing its part in stirring the emotions of the audience."^ In that mixture of spiritual and secular, Burns finds his raw material, his satiric target, and his unifying theme. "The Holy Fair" has long won acclaim from c ritic s , such as this praise from :

The b rillia n c e of the ambiguous imagery, the adroit intermingling of the carnal and the spiritu al meanings of the same word, the variations of tempo and the manipulation of levels of suggestiveness show a high art: here is not spontaneous building-up of simple peasant emotion but a conscious use of the multiple resources of a complex verse f o r m . 48

The Christis Kirk stanza and its traditional associations give the poem certain effects. The dimeter ninth line and repeated

"day" at the end give unity to each stanza. Every stanza develops a single topic (much like a prose paragraph) that is subordinate yet necessary to the whole. In most stanzas Burns constructs a mini­ portrait, comprehendable by itself, vitalized by concrete details, and potentially dramatic, such as in stanza XI:

0 happy is that man, an' blest! Nae wonder that i t pride him! Whase ain dear lass, that he likes best, Comes clinkan down beside him! 99

Wi' arm repos'd on the d h aiv b a ck , He sweetly does compose himj Which, by degrees, slips round herneck , An's loof upon her bosom paws or touches Unkend that day.

There are sufficient details to let us visualize the acting out of this scene, the stanza builds to its own climax and d^nounement, the man's sexuality takes precedence over the sermon thundering against lechery, and the preacher and the man have different definitions for

"blest"—other stanzas use the same techniques to expose sim ilar themes. Transitions between these stanza units are precluded by the poem's structure--essentially a flow of events comprehended by the speaker. Stanzas do not follow one another in the cohesive pattern observable in narrative or argument; the organizing element here is the physical and mental movement of the observer. The speaker, who remains an interested, amused, but non-participating observer, begins with his remarks about the lovely Sunday morning. Once he sees

"three hizzies" walking toward him, the actual description of the fa ir is underway. All those at the fa ir embody, in varying degrees, the characteristics of these three hizzies—Fun, Hypocrisy, and

Superstition. Moreover, the la tte r two introduce Burns's s a tiric targets, and "Fun" defines his tone. After he arrives at the fair, a sense of physical movement dominates, as the speaker, amid a bus­ tlin g crowd, alternates between preaching tent and drinking area, between description of the overall scene and close ups of individuals.

Because of his images and motion we are drawn into the scene, as i f we hear people "crying out for bakes [biscuits] an' g ills [drinking 100 vessels]" or we see "lasses, skelpan [hurrying] barefit, thrang,/

In silks an' scarlets g litte r" (11.156,59-60). One event we do not see is celebration of Communion;* Burns never describes the ministers administering the sacrament--the only taking of food and drink is in the areas away from the preachers, suggesting that a kind of Communion, though one not acceptable to the Kirk, has occurred.

Burns paints the ever-changing scene not just as an exercise in description but in order to accentuate the incongruities and paradoxes that are predominant at the fa ir. Without moral outrage or condemnation, he gives us insight to the a c tiv itie s and to the meaning of these activities: despite the Kirk's threats of hell ringing in their ears, participants engage in drinking, flirting, fornication—a ll those fleshly desires the preachers are inveighing against. The variegated scene is composed of many people who cannot deny either flesh or s p irit. In e ffec t, Burns is suggesting an old theme: there are similarities of sensation between religious enthusiasm and sexual desire. His last stanza marks the conclusion of the festivities and also reiterates the idea that piety and sensuality are intermingled:

How monie hearts this day converts, O' Sinners and o' Lasses! Their hearts o' stane, gin night are gane by As saft as ony flesh is. There's some are fou o' love divine', There's some are fou o' brandy, An' monie jobs that day begin, May end in Houghnagandie fornication Some ither day.

"Love divine" is as ambiguous as "holy ," blurring any division 101 between sensual and s p iritu al. The Christis Kirk trad itio n serves

Burns w ell. Adhering to its characteristics in verse, subject, structure, and tone, he is able to show how the fair becomes a fun- filled celebration while not losing its spiritual overtones, and

* he is able to attack those too hypocritical and repressive to admit th e ir fleshly needs, their human condition. Nothing else

Burns does in Christis Kirk surpasses the s k ill here.

When Burns looks at another rustic occasion in "Halloween," he again selects Christis Kirk as the appropriate form for satiric description. Scots peasants gather on Halloween to cast spells and charms in attempts to read the future; sp ecifically, they seek to learn the identities and characteristics of their future spouses.

The subject--rustic festivities emphasizing fun, drinking, and games-- is appropriate to the Christis Kirk form. No satire results from a contrast between form and subject. Rather, the satire is revealed in two other contrasts. First, there are apparent differences in language, tone, and purpose between the poem and Burns's footnotes.

For example, in a footnote Burns explains

Whoever would, with success, try this spell, must s tric tly observe these directions. Steal out, a ll alone, to the kiln, and, darkling, throw into the pot, a clew of blue yarn: wind i t in a new clew o ff the old one; and towards the la tte r end, something w ill hold the thread: demand, wha hccudel i.e . who holds? and answer w ill be returned from the kiln -pot, by naming the Christian and sirname of your future Spouse.

Merran, who goes outside to try this ritual, has little success: 102

An' ay sh ew in’t, an' ay she swat, reached; sweated I wat she made nae jaukin; T ill something h e ld within the p a t, Guid L d! but she was quakin! But whether 'twas the B e il himsel, Or whether 'twas a bauk-en end of a crossbeam Or whether i t was Andrew Bell, She did na wait on talkin To spier that night. (11.100-08)

Burns's footnotes explain the ritu als succinctly and objectively as i f merely recording accepted facts. The poem embellishes with

Scots dialect and with depictions of flawed individuals the enact­ ment of those facts. The poem's participants, who do believe the charms, are remarkably unsuccessful in deriving the desired in for­ mation from them. In that contrast lies a second type of ridicule: there is incongruity between what seems to be (rituals that will reveal the future) and what is (because of fear, they are unwilling to complete the ritu a ls , and thus they learn nothing about the future).

Ironically, each person who tries a spell is easily scared off from completion, as was Merran. Shrieking and tumbling away, Jamie is scared by a cow wandering nearby; Meg hardly starts her ritu a l when the noise of a rat sends her running "thro' midden-hole [gutter at the bottom of a dung h i l l ] an' a'" (1.196). Will mistakes a knotty timber of oak "For some black, grousome C a r lin "; and Leezie is so terrified by a cow's moan that she plunges into the creek (11.203-04).

All seem beset with overactive imaginations that deflect their desires for knowledge.

Structurally, the poem follows a sequence that helps give i t unity. From a generalized meditation on the dream-like quality of 103

Halloween night, Burns moves indoors to give an overview of the fe s tiv itie s , as in stanza I I I :

The lasses feat, an' cleanly neat, Mair braw than when they're fine; Their faces blythe, fu' sweetly kythe, Hearts le a l, an' warm, an' kin ': loyal The lads sae tr ig , w i' wooer-babs, trim; garters Weel knotted on their garten, Some unco blates, an' some w i' gabs, bashful Gar lasses hearts gang startin cause Whyles fast at night.

From the eighth stanza to the twenty seventh stanza, he focuses on specific rituals enacted by specific participants; linking them are two stands of commonality: each person seeks knowledge of his or her future spouse and each gains no such knowledge. The observer gives increasingly expanded details about individuals' attempts, culminating with the example that illustrates the most damaging consequences: Leezie's plunge into the stream leaves her cold and wet and ignorant of her future husband. The poem ends with the observer moving further away to give again a general view of the fe s tiv itie s of a ll the group (11.244-50). Although some stanzas remain completed units, by extending his description of some per- 49 sons' actions, he links some stanzas into groups. The major source of unity, however, is the single observer who maintains a consistent attitude and controls the movement of the poem, although he never e x p lic itly judges what he sees. Even further removed is the of the footnotes, who gives just the facts, as a dis­ passionate researcher might. Neither labels the events s illy or stupid or futile. Thus Thomas Crawford's opinion that the speaker 104 exhibits "elements of superciliousness, of conscious superiority, and 50 even of thinly disguised cruelty" seems unfair. Burns describes no long-lasting or injurious consequences; he does not applaud the participants' failures or scorn their attempts. To be sure, he is not viewing the failures as tragic. The pervasive attitude the speaker does re fle c t is amusement--as is characteristic of Christis

Kirk. For instance, there is laughter but not cruelty or condescensioi in these 1ines:

He roar'd a horrid murder-shout, In dreadfu' desperation! An' young an' auld come rinnan out, An' hear the sad : He swoor 'twas hilehan Jean M'Craw, limping Or crouchie Merran Humphiet hunch-backed Till stop! she trotted thro' them a'; An' wha was i t but Gvwnphie a cow Asteer that night? (11.177-80)

Burns is gently mocking their beliefs and their fears, seeing the irony in the situations, revealed in his description of Nelly's search for stalks of oats that will show if she will be a virgin when she marries and of her near loss of the "top-pickle" (sign of v irg in ity ) while she cuddles with Rab in the shed. Burns does not coerce a certain reaction from us or state his s a tiric point in any direct way; he implies his ridicule through his selection of details and his examples of the participants trying to enact rituals, becoming frightened, and running away ignorant of any information.

Burns described "The Ordination" as "a poem on Mr. M'Kinlay's being called to Kilmarnock" (ie tte re , 1,22). That terse descrip­ tion disguises the biting humor of his attack on the ministers' lack of sense and enormous pretense to spiritual insight: "For sense 105

they l i t t l e owe to frugal Heav'n—/To please the Mob they hide the

l i t t l e giv'n" (Headnote). To describe the celebration Burns devises a persona who both records and comments on the events. The speaker

— in opposition to Burns's own attitude—consistently praises the

Auld Lichts and joyously celebrates their triumph (seeing one of

their own ordained this day). The persona is equally delighted that

"curst Common-Sense, that imp o' hell" has been routed, that the

Kirk now has "Heresy . . . in her pow'r," that the new minister will "punish each transgression;/Especial, rams that cross the breed," and that learning, common sense, and morality are "packed a ff to h 11" (11.10,25,42-43,106). Although the Christis Kirk practice is

to make the speaker an amused, unbiased observer, Burns chooses to make him a vehicle for irony. We are easily aware of the disparity between the views of Burns and of his speaker, for the ironic reversal is simple enough. The observer's condemnation of learn­

ing, common sense, opposing ministers, and morality and his delight in the sadistic activities of the Auld Lichts make it impossible for us to share his view; we are le f t with no way to turn except to Burns's side, for he leaves us no room to remain disinterested bystanders.

But the poem's success does not come so much from Burns's use of the speaker as through his use of the Christis Kirk form. A serious theological ceremony is reduced to a village brawl by Burns's use of this form with its traditional associations as well as by his choice of Scots idioms, details, and images. The use of 106

Christis Kirk for this subject is crucial to the satiric effect:

It is the . . . same trick of popularising, bringing down into the streets, the affairs of the great which Burns deliberately works up into such rich . . . both in the whole idea of making over a solemn Presbyterian ceremony into a village festivity, and in the poetic turn whereby the Presbyterian aggressiveness and denunciatory preaching turn the Old Testament into a pub brawl.51

Each stanza accentuates the contrast of form and subject, thus advancing Burns's attack on the cruelty, hypocrisy, and incompe­ tency of the Auld Licht extremists. The fourth stanza is an especially effective example of how the verse (with its dimeter lin e ), the deliberately distorted imagery, the re a lis tic diction, andthe theological overtones are combined to render biting satire:

Come, le t a proper text be read, An' touch it aff wi' vigour, How graceless Ham leugh at his Dad, laughed Which made Canaan a niger; negro Or Phinea8 drove the murdering blade, Wi' wh_re-abhorring rigour; Or Z ip p ora h, the scauldin jad, wench Was like a bluidy tiger I ' th 1 inn that day.

More succinctly, his description of the group's movement from"Laigh

K ir k . . . aff to B_gb s" [Begbies's, a tavern], where they will

"pour divine libations" in celebration (11.5,7-8), significantly links the two elements—religious and secular—which give the piece a unified theme. The poem gains unity also by its use of a single voice that maintains a consistent attitude and by the fact that all parts of the poem describe a single topic. Stanzas are arranged in a pattern, an order apparently didftated both by chronology and 107

by the observer's moving eye. Woven into the fabric of the whole

and holding a ll in coherence, however, is that theme defined by

"divine libation": the religious and the secular are inseparably


Borrowing from the European medieval tradition of the peasant

brawl and more particularly from its adaptations by Scots poets,

Burns has demonstrated his own s k ill in using Christis Kirk. Each

of the satiric poems exhibiting Christis Kirk characteristics has

it strengths. Even "Halloween," of limited appeal now because

of its cumbersome dialect and restricted topic, has historical

interest as a mocking description of a custom of Scots peasants.

"The Ordination," also limited in its attraction to those not engaged

in Kilmarnock's a c tiv itie s in 1785, is a humorous piece with larger appeal; a ll the specific data serves to illu s tra te universal flaws-- hypocrisy and oppression--and to develop a long-lived theme of the

intermixture of sensual and spiritual needs. The best, however, is

"The Holy Fair," not so much for its specific subject matter as for its poetic values: unity, insights into human nature, carefully constructed contrasts, creation of vivid sense impressions, imagery not merely inserted but consciously used to develop more fu lly a theme sim ilar to that suggested in "The Ordination." Burns controls the complicated verse form so well that is readers' loss that he used

Christis Kirk so rarely.

Knowing the focus of attack is important to a discussion of a w riter's satire. But our understanding of those targets depends to some degree on the form in which they are developed. In Burns's poetry, the word "satire" does not define a form but a spirit he

inserts into various poetic types: epistles, monologues, dialogues,

burlesques, songs, and Christis Kirk description. In the early

poems he exhibits firm control of each of these vehicles of satire.

In some epistles he only includes b rie f passages of s a tiric remarks,

but brevity does not obviate the clarity and intensity of the attack.

Other verse letters are w ell-unified, steadily advancing the attack.

Most of the s a tiric epistles share certain features: Standard Habbie

used to achieve varying tones depending on the closeness of his

friendship with the recipient; an audience whose approval he a n ti­

cipates; his own voice rather than a mask. His decisions about

personae, structure, versification, and tone re fle c t his desire to i attack human weaknesses as lucidly and emphatically as possible.

Monologues comprise one of the most impressive vehicles of his

satire. Whether he writes monologue or the more specialized dra­

matic monologue, he seems at ease. S ignificantly, the second poem of this type is "Holy W illie 's Prayer," long acclaimed as one of the best of a ll dramatic monologues. His a b ility to employ diverse

kinds of personae to achieve varied satiric effects is a distinctive

element of a ll the monologues. He creates some personae who are

themselves the objects of satires, such as W illie and the speakers

in "To a Louse" and "Tam o' Shanter." Others are the voices for

Burns's attack against some other person or group, as in "Unco Guid,"

"Cry and Prayer," and "Libel Summons." Sometimes he uses personae iro n ically so that we must see through the speaker's view, as in "A Dream" and "Address of Beelzebub," in order to discern Burns's own attitude. Also characterizing these monologues and defining their

degrees of effectiveness are such elements as specific details,

a concrete sense of an audience, and the^sense of a scene unfolding before us. At his best, he makes us feel that we overhear a private speech; for example, Burns has so completely objectified his character that Holy Willie speaks for himself. In those totally

unified in purpose and tone and characterization, we find the most telling attacks. Of his dialogues the most artistic and the most cohesive in their s a tiric attacks are the f ir s t two he wrote.

Burns employs the dialogue infrequently, perhaps because he is not comfortable with its features. Certainly, though, in the early dialogues he shows the full range of his capabilities at creating characters, drama, on-going conversation, and unity, for the la te r dialogue marks deterioration in his use of the vehicle.

The poems in which he consciously imitates features of the mock-elegy, mock-celebration, and mock-encomium are few. The e a rlies t ones demonstrate the scope of his a b ilitie s ; he treats serious topics in a non-serious way by his selection of language, images, and stanzaic patterns. The la te r pieces show no particular improvement in his handling of the burlesque; in fact, the two angry attacks on women he disliked are his two poorest "mock" poems.

The satiric songs do not represent the totality of his song-writing excellence but do illustrate that the song is so flexible an instrument in his hands that he can adapt a variety of tempos, refrains, and versifications to satiric ideas. The satiric songs in the early group are not surpassed by the la te r examples. "Love and Liberty" stands alone as a complex, cohesive cantata. Within the demanding restraints of Christis Kirk he reflects his ability to inform about the customs of Scots. Into these descriptions he subtly threads ridiculing comments. Since Burns wrote no Christis

Kirk poems a fter 1786, he shows the fullness of his achievement in the early group. He developed his satire through six forms. View­ ing the vehicles individually and considering several examples of each leads to the conclusion that in the early group Burns wrote some of his best satire and that the la te r group--though containing some w ell-w ritten poems--does not show significant changes or improvement in his a b ility to jo in s a tiric attack to these six vehicles. That which Burns wrote by August 1786 reveals the extent of his satiric power. I l l

The early epistles are: "Epistle to J. R*****[ankin]," "Epistle to J. [Lapraik]," "To the Same [Lapraik]," "To W. [Simpson]," "Epistle to John Goldie," "To the Rev* John M'Math," "The Inventory," "To Mr, John Kennedy," "Extempore--to Mr. Gavin Hamilton," "A Dedication to G**** h******* [Gavin Hamilton]." The la te r epistles are: "Robert Burns' Answer [to a T a ilo r]," "Epistle to Capt. W ill. Logan," and "Epistle to Robt. Graham." 2 John C. Weston, "Robert Burns' Use of the Scots Verse- Epistle Form," Philological Quarterly, 49 (April 1970), 200. 3 Standard Habbie, f ir s t used in the seventeenth century by of Bel trees and la te r adopted by Ramsay, Fergusson, and Burns, rhymes AAABAB; the f ir s t three lines and the fifth line are iambic or , and the fourth and sixth lines are dimeter, sometimes with an extra half . 4 Occasionally Burns uses other verse patterns that convey his s a tiric idea. For example, the four-stress pattern of rhyming couplets in "The Inventory" creates a lightly mocking tone. The refrain "Naething" emphasizes the s a tiric climax of each quatrain of "Extempore— to Hamilton." 5 In "Epistle to Robert Graham" Burns varies the Standard Habbie pattern, making the six lines rhyme AABCCB, with the f ir s t , second, fourth, and fifth lines being and the third and sixth lines being iambic trim eter.

Robert Langbaum, The Poetry o f Experience (1957; .rpt. New York W. W. Norton, 1963), pp. 85, 93, 106, 146, passim.

7In his 1787 le tte r to Dr. Moore, Burns describes his f ir s t exposure to the folk stories about the supernatural and reveals his ambivalence about whether such stories should be believed or not (L e tte r s, I, 106).

®Jonathan Swift, "The Preface of the Author" to "Battle of the Books," in The Prose Works o f Jonathan S w if, t ed, Herbert Davis (Oxford: Shakespeare Head Press, 1939), I, 140. g Alexander Smith, ed.,The Complete Works o f R obert Bums (New York: Thomas Crowell, 1887), p. xxxix.

^James Kinsley, ed., The Poems and Songs o f Robert Bums (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968), I I I , 1048-49.

^Crawford, p. 58. 112

1 ? Burns wrote that his detestation of ecclesiastical wrangling and of Dr. McGill's persecution prompted him to "serve them [McGill's opponents] up again in a d iffere n t dish" ( L e tte r s, I , 345). 13 Some doubt that Burns wrote this poem; J. DeLancey Ferguson argues against i t in "Robert Burns and Maria Riddell," Modern Philology, 28 (November 1930), 168-84. Even though no holo­ graph has been traced, most, including James Kinsley, include i t in Burns's canon ( I I I , 1470-71).

14Kinsley, III, 1470. 15 See, for example, the discussions of mock-epic elements in "Tam o' Shanter": Allan MacLaine, "Burns's Use of Parody in 'Tam o' Shanter,'" C r itic is m , 1 (Fall 1959), 308-16; M. L. Mackenzie, "A New Dimension for Tam o' Shanter," Studies in , 1 (October 1963), 89-93; James Kinsley, "A Note on 'Tam o' Shanter,"' E n g lis h , 16 (Autumn 1967), 213-17; John C. Weston, "The Narrator of Tam o ’ Shanter," Studies in , 8 (Summer 1968), 537-50. 1 ft Elizabeth M errill, The Dialogue in English Literature '(Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1969), pp. 3, 11. 1 7 M e rrill, pp. 5-11, 112; also influencing Burns's dialogues is a traditional Scots form----which is characterized by repartee-like exchanges between persons or inanimate objects, a personal and scurrilous tone, , and strong rhythmical verse. See, for example, Kurt W ittig's discussion inThe S c o ttis h Tradition in Literature (: Oliver and Boyd, 1958), pp. 210 f f . 1ft The subtitle is ""; Burns's footnote states, "This rencounter happened in seed-time 1785." 19 Burns said that he wrote this poem partially in memory of his own dog, Luath, who died (G ilbert Burns, quoted in Robert Chambers ed., The L if e and Works o f R obert Bums (London: W. and R. Chambers, 1860), I, 211-12). The other dog's name has no such relation to fact; perhaps Burns was struck by the suggestions of power, wealth, and leadership in "Ceasar" [s ic ]. 70 David Daiches, Robert Bunns (New York: Macmillan, 1966), pp. 112. 21 , The Works o f Robert Burns, with an Account of His Life and Criticism of His Writings (Philadelphia: Crissy and Mackley, 1847), p. 79. 113

22 Thomas F. Henderson, Robert Burns (1904; rp t. New York: AMS Press, 1975), p. 59.

^Richmond Bond, English Burlesque Poetry 1700-1750 (1932; rpt. New York: Russell and Russell, 1964), p. 3. 24 Among the early poems also, "A Dream" contains burlesque elements. The Christis Kirk stanza--traditionally describing peasant celebrations--is a form unsuited to a supposedly serious subject— celebration of the King's birthday. In e ffe c t, what the poem reveals in Burns treating frivolously what he views as a trivial subject. "Holy W illie 's Prayer" can be viewed as a parody o f prayer. "The Libel Summons," though basically a monologue, also illu s tra te s Burns's burlesque of ecclesiastical and civil courts. It is "a fanciful satire parallel to the real disciplinary court of the kirk session" (Kinsley, III, 1186). 25 "To " seems an example of the mock-elegy in that Creech, Burns's publisher, was not dead though is described so by the poem. But the piece is sincerely praising Creech and lacks the s a tiric elements reflected in other burlesques discussed here. As noted above, "Tam o' Shanter" contains elements of the mock- heroic, for the minor incidents are given overtones of great signi­ ficance and several characteristic elements o f the epic appear. But the use of the mock-heroic is too inconsistent and sporadic to be considered the defining feature of the poem. 26 ,The Dunaiad, in Poetry and Prose o f Aleannder Papea ed. Aubrey Williams (: Houghton M ifflin , 1969), p. 94 (IV , 64). 27 The Scots humorous elegy, using Standard Habbie, portrays the character and ac tivitie s of some dead person, usually from the lower class, or satirizes him or "describes the place associated with him"; i t contains l i t t l e pathos or humor of language but has a "rollicking and vigorous" tone, an "ironic turn in the la s t two lines of each stanza and a repeated end-line terminating with the word 'dead,'" This information comes from John C. Weston, "An Example of Robert Burns' Contribution to the Scottish Vernacular Tradition," Studies in Philology, 57 (October 1960), 640.

28Ib id ., p. 644. 29 Although Maria Riddell was a liv e , she had abruptly ended her friendship with Burns; perhaps, then, her scorn of his friendship makes her seem 'dead' to him. 30 Kinsley, III, 1304. 114

11 The "Scotch snap" is a short note on the beat, followed by a long note that occupies the rest of the beat; i t can also be defined as a semi-quaver followed by a dotted quaver. 32 Bernard H. Bronson, "Some Aspects of Music and Literature in the Eighteenth Century," inMusic & Literature in England in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1953), pp. 52-53. 33 He uses Standard Habbie, common measure, the b a lla d e , Christis Kirk, and Cherrie and the Slae. The latter is a fourteen- line stanza with a tripartite division: the first six lines rhyme AABCCB in iambic tetrameter; lines seven to ten rhyme DEDE in alternating tetrameter and ; the last four 1ines, the wheel, are trimeter rhyming FGHG and serve as transition to the next stanza (Kinsley, III, 1040). 34 Although recitativo is defined as language expressed in the rhythm and phrasing of ordinary speech that is then set to music, Burns does not set his recitativos to melodies. 35 The recitativo preceding and the song by Merry Andrew are in Burns's holograph and appear in the MS but were written at a different time than was the rest of the poem (Kinsley, I, 198).

38Daiches, p. 200.

37Ibid., pp. 205-06.

38Ib id ., p. 207. 39 Raymond Bentman, "Robert Burns's Declining Fame," S tu d ies in , 11 (Summer 1972), 217. 40 Also of a p o litical nature are the tune and poem both named "Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation"; the slow tempo emphasizes the sadness of the speaker, yet the tune has su fficien t forceful ness to shout out the charge of betrayal. 41 , "Pornography and Bawdry in Literature and Society," in Robert Bums: The Merry Muses o f Caledonia, eds. James Barke and Sidney Goodsir Smith (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1964), p. 34. 42 See also "Godly Girzie," set to "wat ye what I met yestreen," a tune not yet identified; reiteration of "haly" stresses the irony of G irzie ’s hasty yielding to lovemaking. And "Errock Brae," a woman's expression of joyous lovemaking with a Cameronian, is set to "Sir Alex. Don's Strathspey." Note bawdry also in " I'll Tell You a Tale of a Wife," "They Took Me to Haly Band," and "The Bonniest Lass." 115

A O See also "A Mauchline Wedding," which uses the Christis Kirk stanza while ridiculing two women's vanity and simulated grandeur. Also "A Dream" uses Christis Kirk, as do some recitativos in "Love and Liberty."

In the fifteenth century originals, the stanzas consisted of nine lines rhyming ABABABABB, alternating iambic tetrameter with , iambic trim eter, with the ninth line being ; Burns makes some variations. 45 H. Harvey Wood, "Literature," in S co tla n d , ed. Henry W. Meikle (London: Nelson and Sons, 1947), p. 157.

^ A lla n H. MacLaine, "The Christis Kirk Tradition: Its Evolution in Scots Poetry to Burns," Studies in Scottish Literature, 2 (July 1964), 4.

^Franklyn Bliss Snyder, The L if e o f R obert Bums (1932; rpt. Camden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1968), p. 177. 48 David Daiches, "The Identity of Burns," in Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature, ed. Carroll Camden (Chicago: Univer­ sity of Chicago Press, 1963), pp. 330-31. 4Q Grouped are stanzas 13-16, 17-20, and 24-26.

50Crawford, p. 124. 51 David Craig, Scottish Literature and the , 1680-1830 (London: Chatto and Windus, 1961), p. 77. CHAPTER I I I —SATIRIC TECHNIQUES

Understanding Burns' s a tiric targets and the way he develops

his attacks in his six poetic vehicles adds to our insight into his

s a tiric a b ilitie s . Knowledge of the s a tiric techniques he usess

the reasons he uses them, and the effects he achieves is no less

essential to our understanding of his s a tiric achievement. Of course,

a ll the mechanical elements of his poetic compositions serve his

development of s a tiric themes. Three particular elements, however,

are integral to Burns's accomplishments of s a tiric effects. He

u tilize s diction so as to secure s a tiric effects from the contrasts afforded ..y juxtaposing d iffe re n t levels of language, from the and from the concreteness in trinsic to some words,

and from the syntactical arrangements of words. Second,

Burns gains s a tiric intensity from four related elements of versification: accentual, rhythmical, rhyming, and alliterative patterns. Using language in another way, he employs figurative language, or metaphorical imagery, to secure s a tiric results. The

importance of these techniques to his satires is evident, for they produce effects useful to his development of attack: innuendo, ironic extravagance, anticlimax, . The writer's skill with poetic techniques is what Dryden apparently had in mind when he made this differentiation:

how hard [ i t is] to make a man appear a Fool, a Blockhead, or a Knave, without using any of those opprobrious terms. . . . there is s t ill a vast difference betwixt the slovenly butchering of a Man, and the fineness of a stroak [sic] that separates the Head from the Body, and leaves it standing in its place. . . .'

116 117

Examination of these techniques reveals that in the early satires

Burns demonstrates as much diversity and control over them as he does in the later poems.


The language in Burns's poetry is of three kinds: Augustan and literary English, vernacular Scots, and a Scots-standard English mixture. The first, which he ordinarily reserves for serious poems, rarely appears in his satires. Speirs argues that because English is to Burns an alien language, when he abandons the fam iliar vernacu- 2 la r "he invariably loses contact with the source of his powers."

Burns is at his most natural and unforced when using Scots vernacular, for that was the language of the rural society in which he lived most of his life. Use of the vernacular allows him to move freely and easily within couplets and stanzas, to place emphases where he wants them, to ignore "correct" syntactical order and strict prose logic in favor of the effects of conversational speech, and to select from a variety of richly expressive phrases. Most often, however, he intermingles in varying degrees the diction of vernacular Scots and standard English, finding advantages in the combined use of both : a wider range of synonyms; more fle x ib ility in creating rhyme, a llite ra tiv e , and accentual patterns; more latitu de in the use of emphasis-~e.g. a Scots word inserted into a predominantly

English passage; juxtapositions of different levels and types of language that allow ironic contrasts; and the shock value inherent 118

in the use of language inappropriate for a particular subject.

Examination of the ways in which he uses diction in order to develop his satire will include consideration of how and why he intermingles different levels of language--!iterary and vernacular--and various areas of language--legal, religious, courtly; of how he utilizes ambiguous and concrete diction in order to insinuate or specify his point; of how he arranges words into syntactical units so as to convey his and his personae's attitudes. Such a discussion reveals a same­ ness in his patterns of usage throughout his s a tiric poetry, for the later satires repeat the characteristic features of the early poetry and introduce no new patterns. Since he must supply verbally the context that gives objects significance, attributes, scale, and quality, Burns usually selects diction and syntax that indicate the preselected point of view from which the objects are to be seen and thus guides us to share his valuation of the objects. Furthermore, the impulse of his mixtures of standard English and the vernacular is anti-poetic and conversational. His verse has a spoken quality and broken, prosy rhythms that adhere to the natural movements of voice.

These conversational elements are predominant in his satires and enhance the satiric attacks.

A major feature of his use of diction is the juxtaposition of words chosen from one area or level of language with those derived from a different area or level. He intermixes such language because the combination develops his s a tiric attacks. The effect of such juxtapositions can be muddily obscure, or they can create new and 119 important meanings: in his poetry Burns illustrates both effects.

Furthermore, some of his contrasts in diction are developed at length; a single word, however, is often enough to communicate his satiric tone. Especially notable are the ways in which satiric oxymorons reduce certain values; when "high" and "low" language are combined, the la tte r tends to devalue the former, so Burns can make the point that the high was overvalued. In the early poetry his patterns of juxtaposition fall into three categories of content:

"poetic" language of chivalry and aristocracy matched with realistic vernacular; legal terminology of ecclesiastical courts joined to common everyday speech; religious and Biblical phraseology combined with ordinary idioms.

Four of the early satires exemplify a similar pattern of jux­ taposition: the vernacular and specific Scots plays against a more abstract, more conventional, more "poetic" diction. The contrast between and the intermingling of the two levels develop the s a tiric tone. Speirs adds that the effect of such a contrast is a "breaking- 3 up of the moral and social conventions they imply." In "Death and

Dying Words of Poor Mai lie " Burns consistently interweaves two kinds of language. He sandwiches such concrete Scots as

An' may they never learn the gaets, Of ither v ile , wanrestfu' P e tsl restless To slink thro1 slaps, an' reave an' steal, blackthorn; plunder At stacks o' pease, or stocks o' k a il. (11.35-38) between the inflated abstractions: 120

Tell him, he was a Master k in 1, An' ay was guid to me an1 mine; An1 now my d ying charge I gie him, My helpless lambs , I trust them wi' him. (11.25-28)


My poor toop-lambt my son an' heir, 0, bid him breed him up wi1 care! (11.43-44)

By having an ewe utter such grandiose thoughts he of course characterizes the poem's speaker; most important, because the language expresses more high-flown sentiments than the substance warrants,

Burns emphasizes his ridicule of the banality and affectations of many elegies. Similarly, "Poor Mailie's Elegy" illustrates the inter­ mingling of a generalized "poetic" diction more common to a serious elegy with a concrete idiom that depicts the commonplace acts of an animal:

Or, i f he wanders up the howe, valley Her living image in h e r yowe, ewe Comes bleating to him, owre the knowe, hillock For bits o' bread; An' down the briny pearls rowe For M a ilie dead. (11.25-30)

The hackneyed "briny pearls" represents in miniature form the satiric point of the whole poem: many serious elegies lack an underlying re a lity of emotion, a lack that matches the a r tific ia l eloquence of the diction.

In contrast to the pattern of usage in the Mai lie poems, such juxtaposition of colloquial Scots and aristocratic diction does not pervade or characterize "The Twa Dogs"; rather, i t emphasizes Burns's attack in only one passage--Ceasar's most savage indictment of the indifferent rich (11.150-70). The larger world of "VIENNA or VERSAILLES"— playgrounds of the weal thy— suffers "satiric depreciation"

because i t is juxtaposed with "the more 'immediate local world'"

that Ceasar next mentions: "He rives his father's auld entails"

(11.159-60).^ Craig points out that the line "To thrum g u itta re e an'

fecht w i' now" t (1.162) "moves with the effect of a sneer and then

a blow o . . as though to say with a hoot of scorn, 'Fight with

c a ttle '. The grandeur of the aristocrats' tour "down I t a lia n

V is ta " gravitates downward when the verb "startles" is added, for

"startles" means "run as cattle stung by the gadfly" (1.163).

Divergent concepts clash also in "Wh_re-hunting amang groves o'

myrtles" and "Love-gifts of Carnival Signioras" (11.164,168). The

lust and venereal disease connoted by the f ir s t phrases in each

line diminish the elevated stature of love suggested by the

to Venus and to upper-class ladies. There is not much subtlety

in these innuendoes; explicit assault is more characteristic of

Ceasar's utterances in the poem, but in these lines the suggestive­

ness seems to lessen the savage tone of Burns's speaker.

An extensive duality of language in "Love and Liberty" is

particularly effective in showing an ironic correspondence between

low life (the beggars in the tavern) and high life (the socially

prominent who scorn the beggars). Burns has in effect mixed the

language "of gallantry with common speech" in order to underline £ his . For example, the carlin sings of her "gallant"

lover and of how they traveled "like lords an' ladies gay"; when he

is hanged, "Adown rny cheeks the pearls ran" for "now a Widow I must mourn/The Pleasures that w ill ne'er return" (11.92,102,107,113-14).

Yet she is just a whore in whose mouth such g litte rin g speech seems incongruous; such expressions, however, may be equally s tilte d and unsuitable even when voiced by an aristocrat. Other speeches and events also stress Burns's mockery of aristocracy's arrogance and poetic platitudes. The vocal contest between the fiddler and tinker, both charmed by the c arlin , parodies the courtly duel (11.151-56).

The second recitativo (11.49-56) parodies the classical epic's con­ ventional inclusion of the audience's response to a formal speech.'7

The bard mocks the lite ra ry habit of consulting a Muse when he de­ clares "I never drank the Muses' STANK [pond],/Castalia's burn

[stream] an' a' that" and then points to his mug of ale as the source of his inspiration (11.216-19). Juxtaposition also reveals Burns's mockery of the Petrarchan tradition of courtly love, for phrases such as "raptures sweet" are followed by the bard's graphic acclaim for fornication (11.224-27). The description of a rape is shocking when i t follows an to Cupid; the interwoven references to classical , Ita lia n music, and the raunchiness of the fid dler ja r the mind (11.190-92,125-28). Pervasively Burns intermingles the language of chivalry with commonplace vernacular:

The Caird p re v a il'd --th ' unblushing fa ir In his embraces sunk; Partly w i' LOVE o'ercome sae sair, An' partly she was drunk: SIR VIOLINO with an a ir, That show'd a man o' spunk, Wish'd UNISON between the PAIR, An' made the bottle clunk To their health that night. (11.181-89) 123

The intrusion of earthy realism and especially the inversion of the poetic "blushing fa ir" emphasize the empty pomposity of such high flown oratory. In these verses the poem places s a tiris t and Literary

Establishment on a direct collision course. Although the paradoxes suggested by his juxtapositions startle, because of their apparent absurdity, they do underscore the truth--differences between beggars and lords are mainly superficial; furthermore, the use of innuendo in developing such paradoxes gives Burns the advantage of speaking emotionally from a personal viewpoint without disturbing his apparent detachment. The juxtapositions are necessary tools in a poem that implicitly attacks the intolerant aristocracy as well as mocking the pretensions of some poets.^

Burns is drawing from another area of language for his juxtapositions in "Libel Summons." He joins legal terminology with

Scots-English to create an exaggerated attack of the Kirk's Session

Courts that un realistically punish sexual offenders. The in itia l and the concluding stanza are couched in straightforward legal language, as i f the tr ia l were serious:

In Truth and Honour's name--AMEN-- Know a ll men by these Presents p l a i n : - - ( ll.1-2)

THIS, mark'd before the date and place is , SIGILLUM EST, PER, B s THE PRESES.

This Summons and the signet mark, EXTRACTUM EST, PER RICHMOND, CLERK.

At MAUCHLINE, idem date of June, 'Tween six and seven, the afternoon, You twa, in propria personae, 124

Within design'd, SANDY and JOHNY, This SUMMONS legally have got, As vide witness underwrote: Within the house of JOHN DOW, vinter, NUNC FAC 10 HOC, GULLELMUS HUNTER. (11.159-70)

In the intervening passages he scatters Latinate legal words that

sustain the of a law court; usually, however, he joins

language common to law courts, sex, gallantry, and coarsely common­

place activities--

He who disowns the ruin'd Fair-one, And for her wants and woes does care none; The wretch that can refuse subsistence To those whom he has given existence; He who when at a lass's by-job, fornication Defrauds her w i1 a fr_g or dry-b_b; The coof that stands on clishmaclavers wordy discourse When women haflins offer favors:— nearly All who in any way or manner Distain the Fornicator's honor, We take cognisance thereanent, The proper Judges competent.--(11.16-28)

He emphasizes his mockery by contrasting the pomposity of occasional passages--

BUT, as reluctantly we PUNISH, An' rather, mildly would admonish: Since Better PUNISHMENT prevented, Than OBSTINANCY sair repented. — (11.99-102)— with the realism of other passages--

Ne'er mind their solemn rev'rend faces, Had they--in proper times an' places, But SEEN an* FUN--I muckle dread i t , They just would done as you an' WE did. (11.130-33)

Such juxtapositions prevent any misunderstanding of Burns's attitude toward the Kirk's repressive rules and toward sexual honesty.

In several of the early satiric poems Burns employs local ecclesiastical persons and events as the specific material for his 125 attacks of hypocrisy, arrogance, and repression. One of his major

techniques in developing those attacks is the juxtaposition of

religious and secular language. For example, in "Epistle to Rankin"

such a juxtaposition is a minor part of a poem which depends on more direct attack. But in this epistle Burns introduces the tech­

nique of inserting Biblical parallels as a way to make his point:

0 Rough, rude, ready-wittedr ******. The wale o' cocks for fun an' drinkin! choice There's monie godly folks are thinkin, Your dreams an' tricks Will send you, Korah-like, a sinkin, Straught to auld Nick's. (11.1-6)

The colloquial heartiness of the epistle's greeting makes it

impossible to believe that Burns is serious in his reference to q Korah--who was sent to Hell through a chasm opened at Moses' command.

Instead, he seems sarcastically unconcerned about any such punish­ ment awaiting his friend or himself. Other juxtapositions of the

Biblical and secular are more fully illustrated in "The Holy Tulzie,"

"Address to the D eil," "The Ordination," "The Holy Fair," and "Holy

Willie's Prayer."

The juxtaposition of Biblical references, pastoral language, and conventional sentiments pervades "The Holy Tulzie." Even in a poem ostensibly lamenting two shepherds' quarrel, the bombast of "0, do I liv e to see *t" is too excessive a response. When Biblical language is used, it is so inextricably bound with pastoral/animal activities that it does not elevate the shepherds' dispute to a spiritual level; instead, the homely language diminishes the s ig n ifi­ cance of the religious argument. For instance, Burns implies that it 126 is ridiculous that the shepherds allow their flocks to taste only

"Calvin's fountain-head"; one minister is ironically praised for swinging a "Gospel-club" (11.29,44). By including religious references and Biblical echoes--such as those evoked by "The twa best

Herds in a' the west/That e'er gae gospel horns a blast"^0— Burns clarifies his parallel: the shepherds quarrelling over flocks represent two ministers disputing parish boundaries. The exaggerated sorrow, the commonplace a c tiv itie s of the animals, and the incompatible

Biblical references are important for informing us that Burns iron­ ic a lly deviates from the attitude of g rie f that is voiced by his persona.

In "Address to the Deil" Burns intermingles language based on two views of Satan: that of popular and that of the

Bible and Kirk. References to the former dominate his delineation of Satan, for Burns draws heavily on a Scots lite ra ry and popular tradition that depicted Satan as a sly rascal, as a who often disguised himself as a fisherman or laborer or kirk elder, and as an ordinary sinner whose weaknesses include g irls , drink, dancing, and practical jo kes.^ Burns draws from folklore when he inserts such phrases as "ragweed nags" that witches ride, the

"eldritch croon" that the Devil makes, "water-kelpies" who work for

Satan (11.50,30,69). For contrast he includes colloquialized

Biblical language: the Devil is a "roaring lion" seeking prey "a1 holes an' corners"; instead of the Hebrew image of Jehovah flying on the wind, Burns describes Satan "on the strong-wing'd Tempest fly in ,/ 127

Tirlan the k ir k s " (1 1 .1 9-2 0 ,2 1 -2 2).^ Mentions of Eden, the F a ll,

Job, and Michael recall Biblical events, but Burns puts those names in contexts that show how casually he views the Devil's actions; for example, he asks i f Satan recalls when he "sklented [squinted mali­ ciously] on the man o f t/s/Your spitefu' joke?" (11.101-02). The conversational quality of his Scots-English, his casual acceptance of a friendly companion, and the alterations he imposes on Biblical teachings about Satan imply Burns's repudiation of the Kirk's concept of the Devil.

Burns's mocking tone in "The Ordination"--purportedly the speaker's celebration of a serious theological event--is immediately defined by his choice of an idiomatic, conversational Scots-English that iro n ically counteracts the ostensible seriousness of his subject:

Switch to the Laigh K ir k , ane an' a.' quickly An' there tak up your stations; Then a ff to B_gb_'s in a raw, a tavern An' pour divine libations For joy this day. (11.5-9)

The colloquial tenor of the verse calls attention to its e lf as i f to exaggerate the contrast between the relaxed qualities of ordinary speech and the rig id ity of the Auld Lichts' dogma and utterances.

Moreover, some of the surprising juxtapositions demand that we see through the presumptions of the Auld Licht celebrants:

Mak haste an' turn king David owre, An' lilt wi' holy clangor; O' double verse come gie us four, An' skirl up the Bangor. . . .(11.19-22)

"Clangor" is a deliberately snide way of describing the sound of being sung, for not only does the word mean "loud, chaotic 128 noise," but it also has associations with the harsh sounds of battle.

"Skirl up the Bangor," meaning "yell out a psalm tune," is similarly derogatory in its implications. "mak haste an' turn king

David owre" instead of "hasten to sing a psalm" is both inappropriately informal for the ordination ceremony and vulgar. When he links commonplace details about ca ttle with the Auld Lichts1 triumphant celebration, the effect is also ironic:

Now auld K **********> cock thy t a i l , An' toss thy horns fu' canty; cheerfully Nae mair th o u 'lt rowte out-owre the dale, bellow Because thy pasture's scanty; For lapfu's large o' gospel hail Shall f i l l thy crib in plenty, An' ru n ts o' grace the pick an* wale, choice No gi'en by way o' dainty treat Buy ilka day. (11.46-54)

The metaphor of the parish as a bull enjoying gospel food is coherent, but in the context of the poem i t degrades the Evangelicals. Burns's tone in this passage is defined by the word "runts" which means

"cabbage stalks" but as an adjective also means "stunted"; the latter meaning implies that the dogma of the Auld Lichts is somehow restricted, inadequate. Permeating the poem, this kind of parodoxical linkage helps reveal that Burns deviates from the opinion voiced by the per­ sona and punctures the absurdity of the Auld Lichts' pretenses.

In "The Holy Fair" the constant balancing of pulpit rhetoric against the language of ordinary living supports the revelations of

Burns's attitude and theme that are also exposed by his metaphorical imagery, structural pattern, direct statements, and juxtaposition of events; here a ll poetic elements merge into an organic whole. The juxtaposition of words is a major technique, revealing Burns's basic

contrast of "the life of nature and natural man" and "the artifices 13 of religious hypocrisy and display." For the former he employs

colloquial Scots-English, for the la tte r Biblical phraseology. For

example, he begins one stanza with "0 happy is that man, an1 b le s t!/

Nae wonder that i t pride him," then recounts in the vernacular the

particular blessing--the man sits by his favorite girlfriend and

rests his hand on her breast (11.91-99). Burns reserves his most

te llin g juxtaposition for the concluding stanza: the participants

"wi1 f a it h an' hopet an' love an' d r in k" are singing in the drinking

tent. This combination of St. Paul's three virtues with drink

simultaneously elevates the la tte r to equal rank with the other

virtues and casts doubts on Burns's interpretation of lo ve . Whether

he refers toeros or agape or both is le f t teasingly ambiguous.

Similarly he modifies Ezekiel's promises--"A new heart also will I

give you, and a new Spirit will I give within you: and I will take

away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I w ill give you an heart

of flesh"--into the ambivalent "Their hearts o' stane, gin night are

gane/As saft as ony flesh is" (11,237-38)."^ Joining the spiritual

and sensual into an ambivalent mixture expands his b e lie f that both are necessary and essentially inseparable. What he implicitly satiri­

zes are those who refuse to see that humans encompass both.

Similar juxtapositions of diction are crucially important to

the development of the monologue form and the s a tiric theme in "Holy

Willie's Prayer." The linguistic juxtaposition of Biblical English 130 with colloquial, frank Scots permeates the poem and sustains the ironic contrast between Willie's view of himself and his God and 15 the reader's understanding of his character. A prayer couched in

Biblical phraseology is not unusual; nor is i t incredible to conceive of a man privately addressing God in the idiom of his national language. But W illie's diction bespeaks a piety and an intimacy with God that ironically contrast with what his words actually reveal: impiety and alienation. Within the ritual pattern of the prayer, Willie attempts to reflect his dedication and nearness to

God through his selection of language; but what he actually divulges in his coarse, cruel thought. W illie is in truth poorly equipped to explain himself in the Biblical parallels he voices. Paul describes proper Christian behavior when he urges that people exercise their

God-given talents wisely and without conceit; Jesus praises John as 1 a brightly shining light. These observations are echoed by Willie:

I bless and praise thy matchless might, When thousands thou has le f t in night, That I am here before thy sight, For gifts and grace, A burning and a shining lig h t To a' this place. —(11.9-12)

When he la te r refers to his misbehavior with Leezie's lass and Meg,

W illie decides

Maybe thou lets this fleshly thorn Buffet thy servant e'en and morn, Lest he o'er proud and high should turn, That he's sae gifted; I f sae, thy hand maun e'en be borne , 7 Untill thou lift it.--(11.55-60)

The Old Testament abounds with accounts of God's heavy hand of punishment on the disobedient, but the penalties are God's to assess rather than Willie's to allow. Similarly distorted by the littleness of W illie is the series of grand curses that God levels on those who disobey him: "Cursed shalt thou be in the c ity , and cursed shalt thou be in the field. Cursed shalt be thy basket and thy store.

Cursed shalt be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land . . .

(Deut.XXVIII.15-20). Willie assumes the responsibility of telling

God to "Curse thou his [Hamilton's] basket and his store,/Kail and potatoes" (11.77-78). When Solomon requested that God hear his prayer and supplication, he added, "When thou hearest, forgive"; when W illie asks "L d hear my earnest cry and prayer," he asks no forgiveness and makes no confession but uses the prayer to call for 18 God's vengeance against his personal enemies (11.79-84).

Burns maintains this litu rg ic a l note throughout the poem; the inappropriateness of the diction becomes increasingly obvious while at the same time it helps us to penetrate Willie's projected image.

A scriptural framework, as in these passages—

For I am keepet by thy fear Free frae them a '— (11.35-36) But thou remembers we are dust, Defil'd wi' sin.--(11.41-42) encompasses his confessions expressed in the vernacular—

But yet--0 L d--confess I must— At times I'm fash'd wi' fleshly lust. . . . afflicted 0 L d—yestreen— thou kens—wi* Meg— Thy pardon I sincerely beg! (11.37-38,43-44)

He divulges his deviation from sense in the grotesquely inhuman image expressed in an amalgam of Biblical English and colloquial Scots: When from n\y mother's womb I f e ll, Thou might hae plunged me deep in h e ll, To gnash my gooms, and weep, and w ail, In burning lakes. . . . (11.19-22)

"The agonised recollection of defeat" in

0 L d rny G_d, that glib-tongu'd Aiken! My very heart and flesh are quaking To think how I sat, sweating, shaking, And p_ss1d w i' dread, While Auld w i' hingin lip gaed sneaking And hid his head! (11.85-91) functions as a to the Biblical invocations expressed in the next 19 stanza. Other passages unveil a union of self-pity, Biblical parallels, pompous self-opinion, and sanctimonious pretense (11.55-60).

Burns carefully weaves these juxtapositions into the fabric of the poem and the speaker; incongruous amalgams of language serve as one of the poet's principal techniques for lettin g W illie condemn him­ self as an arrogant, intolerant, unpenitent hypocrite.

In his later poetry Burns continues to utilize the satiric effects available through juxtapositions of different kinds of language. Only a few poems juxtapose re a lis tic idiom with religious and Biblical phraseology; but because Burns writes the bulk of his ecclesiastical satires before the end of 1786, i t is understandable that the language of religion appears less frequently. Most of the juxtapositions contrast the vernacular with "poetic" and high-flown language. Rather than adding new dimensions to his technique of le ttin g contrasts in diction develop satire, Burns in the la te r poetry seems less skilled at organically linking juxtapositions of language with satiric idea; the contrasts in diction are less crucial 133

to his development of satire than they are in many of the early


Although not so in trinsic to the total success or so s k ill­

fu lly used as in "Holy W illie 's Prayer" or "The Holy Fair," merging

of religious/Biblical phr'aseology with realistic vernacular appears

in some la te r poems. In "Reply to a Tailor" Burns records a

fic titio u s encounter with a Kirk elder; Burns vernacularizes Biblical

language (Matt. V.30) in order to highlight his mockery of Kirk


"Geld you!" quo1 he, "and whatfore no, " If that your right hand, leg or toe, "Should ever prove your sp‘ritual foe, "You shou1d remember "To cut it aff, an1 whatfore no, "Your dearest member." (11.49-54)

Biblical borrowings give a distinctive to "New Psalm,"

Burns's mocking celebration of the monarch's recovery from madness;

the inappropriateness of the Biblical diction to his subject divulges

the poet's irony in this purported equating of King George III and

King David. Echoing Psalms and Isaiah, he urges:

0, SING a new Song to the L ! Make, a ll and every one, A joyful noise, ev'n for the king His Restoration. — (11.1-4)

Now hear our Prayer, accept out Song, And fight thy Chosen's battle. . . . (11.37-38)

In order to express his for the King's enemies and supporters, he selects demeaning Biblical passages: the King's opponents are 21 "sons of Belial" and his followers are "ravening wolves." He even sneaks in an attack on the Kirk's method of selecting parish ministers 134 when he ironically urges: "Consume that High-Place, PATRONAGE,/From

off thine holy hill" (11.33-34)^ The sustained juxtaposition of

spoken idiom and Biblical language provides a coherence to "New

Psalm"; by inserting Biblical texts into inappropriate contexts,

Burns transmits his antipathy toward the King, p o litical ministers,

and the Kirk.

In three of the la te r bawdy poems, he emphasizes his defiance of the Kirk's proscriptive view of sexual pleasures. Into one

frankly coarse account of copulation he intrudes phrases that would better suit a minister's sermon: "diviner blisses,/In holy ecstacy,"

"Heavenly joys before me," and "Rapture trembling o'er me" ("0 Saw

Ye My Maggie," 11.27-28,33-34). These words, however, record a male speaker's sexual excitement over a woman; the incongruity between the language and its context implies Burns's repudiation of Calvinist decorum. The pronouncement "I thought I was in heaven" would usually meet with ecclesiastical approval, but not when voiced in the context of "The Ploughman" (1.24): the female is announcing her intense joy during copulation. In "I'll Tell You a Tale of a Wife," a woman, labelled, "a Whig and a Saunt," speaks to a priest about her (1.2 ). His advice is seemingly appropriate, for he mouths Calvinist belief: he says that erotic passions are "Beelze­ bub's art" and "mair sign of a saunt"; orthodox Faith, rather than deeds, "covers the fauts o' y o u r " and "you" are "Elekit and chosen a saunt" (11.17-18,23-24,29-30). The juxtaposition of his platitudes with her vulgar explanation of her problem--"the sins o' n\y "— prepares for the priest's solution: 135

And now with a sahctify'd kiss Let's kneel and renew covenant: It's this—and it's this—and it's this— That settles the pride o' y o u r .-(1 1 .3 3 -3 6 )

In each of the three poems, Burns makes ecclesiastical language stand in contrast to more vulgar speech and deeds; the contrast achieved by language conveys his attack of the same target: the repressive and hypocritical . Burns is again underlining a concept that is more fu lly developed in "The Holy Fair"— the in e x tri­ cable blending of spiritual and sensual elements, despite what the

Kirk may preach.

More common in the later poetry is the contrast of "poetic," conventional, and literary diction with the realistic idiom of colloquial speech. Such a juxtaposition creates incongruous effects and helps to define Burns's mocking tone. In "The Brigs of Ayr," however, his juxtaposition of poetic and ordinary speech is so poorly handled that it creates confusion; the neoclassical didacti­ cism and colloquially phrased satire do not create a meaningful con­ tras t, a unified to ta lity , or a clear expression of Burns's intent.

Burns forces into the prologue and epilogue the language of a senti­ mental philosophical piece:

The feather'd field-mates, bound by Nature's tie, Sires, mothers, children, in one carnage lie : (What warm, poetic heart but inly bleeds, And execrates man's savage, ruthless deeds!) Nae mair the flow 'r in fie ld or meadow springs; Nae mair the grove with airy concert rings, Except perhaps the Robin's whistling glee, Proud o' the height o' some bit half-lang tree. . . .(11.36-43)

In their conversation the two bridges speak a vernacular untouched by such g litterin g phrases: 136

Auld Vandal, ye but show y o u r .little mense, Just much about i t w i' your scanty sense; Will your poor, narrow footp ath of a street, Where twa wheel-barrows tremble when they meet, Your ruin'd, formless bulk o' stane and lime, Compare w i' bonie Brigs o' modern time? (11.97-102)

In the other pieces in which contrast of language appears, Burns does make juxtaposition aid his attack.

The variety of diction in "Tam Samson's Elegy" helps identify it as a comic elegy. "Poetic" phrases suitable to a serious elegy permeate the poem but are constantly devalued by th eir association with words drawn from masonry, sports, hunting, and fishing. For example, the language of masonry— "le ve l," "bevel," and "bead"— 23 dominates the third stanza; Burns ostensibly elevates that language by adding elaborate phrases: "mystic wofu'" and "thetears w ill revel,/Like ony bead." The next stanza begins with a personification suitable to didactic poetry— "When Winter muffles up his cloak"; he undermines that formal opening by f illin g subsequent lines with curling terms: "curlers," "cock," "guard," "draw," "wick a bore,"

"rink," and "hog-score" (11.19-30). The interjection of a Biblical allusion—"up the rink like Jehu roar"—adds another incompatible element, as do such conventional expressions as "safe the stately

. . . s a il," "bedropp'd wi' crimson h a il," and "dark in [Death]"

(11.27,31-35). By juxtaposing the vernacular accounts of Tam's commonplace a c tiv itie s with lite ra ry phrases that elevate him to noble stature, Burns creates intentional incongruity: .

There, low he lies, in lasting rest; Perhaps upon his mould'ring breast Some spitfu' muirfowl bigs her nest, To hatch an' breed. . . .(11.73-76) 137

Burns is not satirizing Tam as a man or a sportsman any more than he

mocks M ailie for being a sheep; instead he is using the language of

Augustan literary effusions in order to parody the insincerity and

triteness characteristic of many serious elegies.

A similar kind of juxtaposition appears in "Epistle to Captain

Logan," Burns's boisterous le tte r to a fellow carouser. Any expecta­

tion aroused by "Hail" is dashed by the vernacular conclusion of the

first line: ". . . thairm-inspirin, rattlin Willie!" References

to Fortune and Fancy are conventional but not when the abstractions

are characterized as a horse and a dog; "this vile Warl" is a trite

expression that is given new value when juxtaposed with Burns's

suggestion that Logan dance and drink his way to joy. Pervasive

use of musical terminology, personified abstractions, and even a

line of French give the poem a literary cast that is overturned by his

juxtaposition of these terms with idiomatic accounts of the everyday

a c tiv itie s of two rambunctious bachelors.

Literary diction might be expected in a poem with the word

"Ode" in its t it le ; but in "Ode on Mrs. Oswald" and "Ode to Spring"

the gives an aristocratic aura that is emphatically

depreciated by the addition of negative and obscene expressions. In

"Ode on Mrs. Oswald" Burns utilizes the traditional three-part

pattern of the Pindaric ode as well as flowery language and imagery;

but the promise of the grandiose diction is inverted by juxtaposition with harsh epithets. For example, Burns asks "who in widow weeds appears,/Laden with unhonoured years" (11.4-5). The single word 138

"unhonoured" colors the stanza and establishes the savage tone.

Conventional phrases of praise are distorted:

View the wither'd beldam's face— Can thy keen inspection trace Aught of Humanity's sweet melting grace? Note that eye, 'ti s rheum o'erflows, Pity's flood there never rose. See those hands, ne'er stretch'd to save, Hands that took— but never gave. (11.7-13)

In this piece Burns distorts an elegy's usual sentiments by explicitly

negating conventional elegiac phrases. Even though the juxtaposition

itself is simplistic in conception, his language leaves no doubts as

to his target and tone. Burns includes in "Ode to Spring" the

diction expected in a praise of spring and young love: "dewy glens,"

"birds, on boughs," "leaves sae green," "wandering r i l l that marks

the h ill,/A nd glances o'er the brae," "a bower where many a flower/

Sheds fragrance on the day," etc. Because of the concentration of

so many pastoral words Burns accents his parody of an overworked

genre and defies the pastoral's usual description of young love.

Burns challenges conventionality and gains the originality he sought

by juxtaposing the lovely lyrics with vulgarisms: "at early f s,"

"his p_go rise . < . to r_jger Madame Thetis," "mistim'd his a ,/And

f 'd quite out o' tune." The vulgar is not elevated by combination with the pastoral; rather, the few vulgarisms degrade the rhetorical

extravagances and enunciate Burns's mocking tone.

Two other later poems— "Johnie B 's Lament" and "Epistle

to Robert Graham"— integrate diction drawn from the re a lis tic verna­

cular and the lite ra ry (the events of b attle are treated in courtly 139 and chivalric terms). Burns's juxtaposition of d ifferen t types of language characterizes the persona in "Johnie B's Lament" but does l i t t l e tocla rify that Burns speaks iro n ic a lly . The speaker de­ scribes his sorrow over one candidate's loss in anelection; usjng generalized language drawn from b a ttle fie ld actions he seeks to give grandeur to the event:

Earl 6 _____y lang did rule this land Galloway With equal right and fame; Fast knit in chaste and haly bands Wi' B n's noble name.--(11.9-12) Broughton

Unless one knows from other sources, however, which side Burns favors and knows that he had e a rlie r made caustic remarks about Bushby, the poem would not c la rify Burns's position. The poetic language is not so excessive or overdone as to confirm Burns's ironic reversal.

In contrast, the objects of satire in "Epistle to Graham" are clari­ fied within the context of the poem (irrespective of our knowledge of external events) by explicit statements and by the contrasts in diction. Early in the poem Burns outspokenly voices his antipathy to the Duke of Queensberry:

I ' l l sing the zeal Drunlanpg bears, the Duke's estate Wha le ft the all-im portant cares Of fiddles, wh_res and hunters. . . .(11.7-9)

The language--that common to chivalric m ilitary endeavors and niythology matched with re a lis tic idiom— also conveys his attack of both Whigs and Tories. The exaggeration of the bombast is emphasized by his insertion of Scots words:

What Verse can sing, or Prose narrate, The butcher deeds of bloody Fate, Amid this mighty tu lzie! quarrel Grim Horror girn'd; pale Terror roar'd, grinned As Murder at his thrapple shor'd; throat;threatened And Hell mix'd in the brulzie. —(11.61-66) 140

These two poems, both satirizing the flaws of politicians, illustrate the difference between organically functional juxtaposition ("Epistle to Graham") and incidental contrast that adds little to the attack

("Johnie B's Lament"); i t is not coincidental that the former is the more skillfully crafted poem.

Of a ll the later poems "Tam o' Shanter" is most lik e the early ones in which juxtaposition in diction does not merely aid Burns's development of satire but is crucially necessary to his revelation of s a tiric target and theme. The contrasting , interwoven throughout the poem, reveal the duality of the speaker, who is

(along with the Scottish Establishment that has tried to mold him) a principal target of mockery. 's perceptive insight--

"Tam o' Shanter" is "not so much a poem, as a piece of sparkling 25 rhetoric"--pinpoints one of Burns's major s a tiric techniques. The story line is thin, the contrasting styles seem to obviate unity, and the adventures of a Scots farmer are apparently unimportant;

Burns's triumph is in the rhetoric, especially his manipulation of diction. The speaker's vacillation between Augustan literary English and the realistic vernacular coincides with alterations in his attitude toward Tam's adventures and himself. Burns has his speaker principally use colloquial idiom, both when reflecting his empathy for Tam's experiences and when detachedly setting the scene.

Juxtaposed with the vernacular are words drawn from an elaborate and formal vocabulary and some conventional a rtific e s that burlesque the high style of serious didactic poetry, reveal the division in the 141 speaker's mind between the worlds of Scots peasants and eighteenth- century men of le tte rs , and allow him to pose as a frowning moralist.

The speaker begins by b rie fly sketching the cozy, congenial scene at the tavern; the Scots passage concludes with four lines of

English that f ir s t warn us of his moralistic bent (11.9-12). This in itia l tendency foreshadows the speaker's occasional interjection of prescriptive counsel amid idiomatic accounts of the events. In

Scots-English he soon imposes more high-minded advice: "0 Tam I hadst thou but been sae wise,/As ta'en thy ain wife K a te 's advice!"

(11.17-18). Burns mocks this sermonizing note by juxtaposing with it the next lines' idiomatic description of commonplace activities.

When the speaker for the third time (11.33-36) interposes moral strictures, we realize that Burns is deliberately developing a linguis­ tic contrast in order to reflect the speaker's divided personality;

Burns is also announcing his intent to parody the sermonizing style of didactic poetry. Thus when the prologue ends--

Ah, gentle dames! i t gars me greet, makes me cry To think how mony counsels sweet, How mony lengthen'd sage advices, The husband frae the wife despises! (11.33-36)—

Burns has described not only Tam's situation, his wife's angry warnings, and the prelude to the ride; he has also identified the divided mind of his speaker.

The racy idiom describing Tam's joy at the tavern is juxtaposed against abstractions that delay the narrative, stress the moralistic side of the persona, and parody the serious style of the epic: 142

Care, mad to see a man sae happy, E'en drown'd himsel amang the nappy: As bees flee hame w i' lades o' treasure, The minutes wing'd their way w i' pleasure: Kings may be b lest, but Tam was glorious, O'er a' the ills o' life victorious! (11.53-58)

The profundities of stock poetic phrases— "lades o' treasure,"

"minutes [th a t] wing'd," "Kings may be blest," and "o'er a' the il ls o' l i f e victorious"— contrast with the colloquial idiom, the 26 "homey, intimate quality" of the preceding passage (11.37-52) The comparison of a drunken peasant to "Kings" and the apostrophe to

"Care"—a favorite device of serious eighteenth-century poetry—are 27 shockingly inappropriate. The passage, however, is only a prelude to the more extravagant comparisons in the next passage's borribastic


But pleasures are lik e poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow falls in the river, A moment w h ite-then melts for ever; Or like the borealis race, That flit ere you can point their place; Evanishing amid the storm. — (11.59-66)

Consciously using poetic diction, the speaker seeks with his elaborate similes to elevate the significance of the events and further illustrates his inability to find a style consistently appropriate to the "low" tale he records. The language is glaringly a r t if ic ia l, projecting a sham and affected posturing— as i f to parade his superiority to lowly Tam and homely Scots. Daiches argues that this "deliberately 'fancy' English" draws "attention to the lite ra ry quality of the utterance" and sets "the sternness of objective fact against the warm, cosy, and self-deluding view of the 143 28 half-intoxicated Tam." The accumulation of sim iles, the a r tific ia l

structure, and the clumsy rhetorical framework parody grandiose

" and "fine writing"; it is ironically incongruous that

stylistic features of didactic, bombastic poetry describe the pre- 29 dicament of "an obscure Scots tenant farmer." After the four

similes, the speaker reverts to a prosy vernacular: "Nae man can

tether time or tide;/The hour approachesTam maun ride" (11.67-68).

Such conjunctions of Scots idiom with elaborate and formal diction

not only confirm the speaker's s p lit mind but also stress Burns's

intent to parody the s t if f ly grand style. As the speaker moves

further into the ta le , however, he uses more Scots dialect, such as

in his specifically detailed account of the objects on the Devil's


A murderer's banes in gibbet aims; fetters Twa span-lang, wee, unchristen'd bairns; babies A th ie f, new-cutted frae a rape, Wi' his last gasp his gab did gape; mouth Five tomahawks, w i' blude red-rusted; Five scymitars, w i' murder crusted; A garter, which a babe had strangled; A knife, a father's throat had mangled, Whom his ain son o' life bereft, The grey hairs yet stack to the heft. . . .(11.131-40 ff.)

In these passages also he concentrates most of the poem's references

to traditional Scots lore about witches, such as fear of bogles

[ghosts], the presence of witches at a kirk, the shape of the Devil,

the offerings by witches to the Devil, the lights that corpses hold, 30 and their in a b ility to cross water. The speaker apparently believes

in witches just as much as superstitious Tam does. In fact, the

persona is so emotionally involved in the scene and incidents that 144 he does not return to any didactic or lite ra ry note until he is describing the young witch's dance: "But here my Muse her wing maun cour [low er];/Sic flights are far beyond her pow'r" (11.179-80).

The allusion to his Muse is brief, something of an afterthought; he immediately returns his attention to the dance rather than ex­ pounding in formal English about Muses and lite ra tu re .

The next major interruption of the adventure occurs at its peak of intensity—when Tam is being chased by the witches. A passage that parodies the epic interrupts the narrative, holds the curious reader in suspenseful uncertainty, and shocks with its extravagance:

As bees bizz out w i' angry fyke, commotion When plundering herds assail th eir byke; swarm As open pussie's mortal foes, women When, pop! she starts before their nose; As eager runs the market-crowd, When 'Catch the th ie f!' resounds aloud; So Maggie runs, the witches follow, Wi' mony an eldritch skreech and hollow. (11.193-200)

The passage begins and ends with Scots idiom, but the middle lines are standard English; the language its e lf is not inflated or a r t i f i ­ cially elaborate, but the impetus to imitate the epic simile is inappropriate in the context. Perhaps the speaker is trying to keep both us and himself from becoming so involved with Tam that we lose objectivity and a sense of superiority to this drunken lecher; per­ haps the narrator feels more comfortable with his obvious concern for

Tam i f he can pretend the farmer has the stature of the heroic warriors for whom epic poets construct extravagant similes. Despite the homeliness of the comparisons, using the trip le similes is an 145

"exaggerated imitation of a style which is normally associated with 31 dignified, serious poetry" rather than with an obscure farmer.

After the vernacular records the breathless chase and the happy

escape of Tam, the narrator rises for the la s t time to a moralizing

posture. The ending passage is prosaic, understated, and over­


Now, wha this tale o' truth shall read, Ilk man and mother's son, take heed: Whene’er to drink you are inclin'd, Or cutty-sarks run in your mind, Think, ye may buy.the joys o'er dear, Remember Tam o' Shanter's mare. (11.219-24)

Unintentionally parodying Scottish pulpit rhetoric and imitating 32 the moralizing style of eighteenth-century didactic poetry, the

speaker returns to his pose as a detached adviser; the m oralistic

fervor, however, cannot override his demonstrations of intense

interest in the witches' scene and Tam's successful escape.

The speaker is unable to find and maintain a consistent or

appropriate style for the events. The contrast between his inflated

rhetoric and the lowliness of the events imbues the poem with tension and ironic effect. The persona cannot sustain vapidpomposity or

imitations of elaborate diction; he cannot simplyrelax into a use of

the Scots idiom of his environment. The poet uses his speaker's

divided personality for two main satiric ends: to parody the extra­

vagances and artificialities of much didactic poetry; and to attack

the Establishment that proscribes yielding to natural instincts of sympathy, fear, appreciation of the beautiful. 146

In both the early and later satires Burns utilizes the inherent

s a tiric power in juxtaposition of diverse levels of language. \ Incongruous associations help to characterize a persona who speaks

for Burns, aid in pinpointing the specific individual(s) who embodies

flaws that the poet attacks, and clarify his ironic reversal of a

persona's attitude. Burns repeats two patterns of juxtaposition:

contrast of the vernacular with formal, poetic, literary diction;

opposition of the vernacular to religious and Biblical language

(conjunction of legal terminology with colloquial idiom is atypical,

appearing only in "Libel Summons"). His tendency to rely on disparity

in diction as a tool for developing satiric themes is more common

in the early poetry, where it is also more organically merged with

other satiric elements and more crucial to revealing the satiric

tone. Linguistic disjunction is significant to our understanding of his ironic tone in "Epistle to Graham" and "Tam o' Shanter"; but in other late poems the juxtapositions are either subordinated

to other techniques or so awkwardly integrated that they damage the

fabric of the attack. Among the early pieces, such as "The Ordina­

tion" and "The Holy Tulzie," the antithetical dictions are necessary

for informing us of the discrepancy between the attitudes of the persona and of the poet. Holy Willie divulges the depth of his arrogant hypocrisy by his diversity in language. The whole of "The

Holy Fair" depends on pervasive intermingling of contrasting lan­ guages, motifs, imagery, and events with structure, persona, and

Christis Kirk stanzas. 147

With juxtapositions in language Burns supports and develops the attacks in his poetry. He also furthers his satiric attacks by adding ambiguous words, by including e x p lic itly demeaning words, and by achieving a necessary tone and focus through the use of concrete diction. He often chooses words with emotionally neutral denotation but equivocal connotation, such as "leather"; sometimes he leaves no doubt of the abusive nature of his a ttitu d e , as when he charges "Calvin's Sons" with having "skulls [that] are a store­ house of lead" ("The Kirk of Scotland's Garland," 1.21). Redefining a word that becomes insulting because of its context is also a feature of his verbal expressions, such as "muckle wame [big stomach]" in "Second Epistle to Lapraik" (1.64). In both early and later poems these features of his language expose his s a tiric point and characterize d ifferent kinds of personae.

In some of the early poems he deliberately includes words with dual meanings, at least one of which has s a tiric b ite. When

Burns says the women in "Mauchline Wedding" are "bony Birdies," he might have meant these conceited females were "handsome ladies" on their way to a wedding; or perhaps he wished to emphasize his mockery of their vanity by calling them "fine-looking birds" (1.31).

When he relates in "Halloween" that Nell almost lost the "tap- pickle" (the grain at the top of a stalk of oats) while she was cuddling with a man, he could simply be stating facts (11.52-54).

More lik e ly , he is punning on the sexual implications, for this

"top-pickle" is a crucial ingredient in a ritual that reveals whether 148 or not the female goes to her marriage a virgin . The speaker enthusias­ tically welcomes to the ordination celebration "Ye wha leather rax

[stretch] an' draw,/Of a* denominations" ("Ordination," 11.3-4).

Although leather workers could be part of the festive group, the poem's description of the Auld Lichts' method of celebrating--by getting drunk and by torturing th eir opponents--suggests that Burns has deliberately put ambiguous words into the speaker's mouth,

"Leather" does refer to hides and skins (of opponents to Auld

Lichts as well as of animals) but also means "pudendum," The idea of sexual enthusiasts at the celebration accords with Burns's ironic temper. By the implications in "soon we grew lovingly big" he ridicules the "feminine whig" who futilely attempts to disguise her erotic interests ("Extempore--Hamilton," 1.35). Dual interpre­ tations of "well spread looves [palms]" support the e x p lic it attacks of the hypocritical and incompassionate ecclesiasts in "Dedication to Hamilton" (1.62). The palms could be placed together in a prayer­ ful position; or they could be held open and ready to receive g ifts .

Whereas the preceding poems contain isolated passages of ambiguity that help sustain s a tiric tone, in three of the early poems Burns expands the pattern of ambivalent language. The per­ sona concludes "A Dream" with an apparent blessing of the royal family, beginning with the conventional "God bless you a '!" But the remainder of the stanza is so equivocably phrased that i t can be variously interpreted: 149

Ye're unco muckle dautet; fondled But ere thecourse o' li f e be through, It may be bitter sautet: salted An' I hae seen theirooggie fou, barrel or womb That yet hae tarrow't at it, hesitated But or the day was done, I trow The laggen they hae clautet dish or vagina; scraped Fu' clean that day. (11.129-35)

On the surface the passage seems to contain advice that is simul­ taneously trite, pessimistic, and concerned. But some words--

"dautet," "coggie," "laggen," and "clautet"--suggest a coarser meaning: you are fondled now, but one day your fu ll womb w ill not produce a new creation but w ill instead be scraped out and the creation aborted. The ambivalence of this conclusion extends the poem's dominant tone: the persona constantly speaks apparent praise while simultaneously denigrating the family.

Much of Burns's diction in "Libel Summons" seems based on his desire to incorporate double entvendres into the fabric of attack. In a poem that celebrates sexual intercourse, sneers at

Kirk attempts to repress sexual desire, and chastizes those too covfed by social pressure to admit fornicating, the sexual are appropriate. He is both specific and suggestive in such lines as

That ye hae bred a hurly-burly 'fiout JEANY MITCHEL's tir lie -w h ir lie , And blooster'd at her regulator Till a' her wheels gang clitter-clatter.--(ll.63-66)

"T irlie -w h irlie " means both "plaything" and "pudendum"; use of this word sets the tone of a passage in which Burns is unmistakeably— though not explicitly--describing copulation. His point is just as clear when he says that Dow gave her "canister a rattle," that he 150 was playing "at heads and ta ils ," and that he gave "mony a hytch

[thump] and kyrel [bang]" "at her byvel [gable or pudendum]"


In "Love and Liberty," as in "A Dream" and "Libel Summons,"

Burns makes his s a tiric point in directly, through suggestiveness in language., Much of the ambiguous language in this poem characteri­ zes the participants, describes them as if they are members of acceptable society; thus he slyly mocks the Establishment that scorns the beggars. For example, the soldier's doxy is labelled

"the martial CHUCK" (1.55). "Chuck" means "sweetheart" or "dear," though, according to Grose's Dictionary o f the Vulgar Tongue, as a 34 verb the word means "to show a propensity for a man." The term suits the woman in both senses, although polite society would call their women "chucks" in the f ir s t sense of the word. "Martial identifying her as a follower of the army--is appropriate in denotation, but is , as Crawford notes, too inflated a word for 35 her, for it is more the language "of patriots and men of letters."

This doxy then sings of her delight in "proper young men"; since

"proper" means "handsome," "elegant," "fine," she suggests her preferences for well-mannered gentlemen--with whom i t would seem she hap l i t t l e in common. But since the propensity of gentlemen to engage with whores is well documented, the woman's words are used by Burns not so much to mock her grandiose idea of her lovers as to deride the aristocrats who use whores selfishly and hypo­ critically. One of the carlin's fondest memories is the "guid 151

Claymore [sword]11 her dead lover had "down by his side"; with i t , she says, "the ladies' hearts he did trepan [ensnare]" (11.98-99). The obvious sexual is appropriate to her character, although the indirection with which she refers to his sexual prowess suggests that she attempts to improve her image. The fid d ler's wooing song contains a similar ambiguity--he promises the carlin he will "kittle hair on thairms," meaning both "tune up or play fiddle strings" and

"tickle and excite the intestines." Since the phrase is preceded 36 by his mention of "heav'n o' charms"--a common sexual metaphor - - the sexual implications seem intentional (11.145-46). The bard also utters sexual puns after he calls it "a mortal sin" to frustrate will (meaning sexual desire); he insists that personal inclinations decree "how lang the FLIE MAY STANG" (" flie " refers to sexual desire and to the aphrodisiactic Spanish fly). Then the bard promises "My DEAREST BLUID" to serve the ladies, for they "hae put me deft,/They've ta'en me in" (11.228-29,234); "blood" can refer to seminal secretions and "taking one in" means women have made him 37 w ildly excited and have sexually received, him. These sexual entrendres suggest the beggars' defiance of Establishment-prescribed rules of sexual behavior and allow Burns to strike at those rules which seem unnatural as well as deceitful. The Kirk, chief pro­ ponent of the restrictive rules Burns challenges, is more speci­ fically degraded by the tinkler—he swears fealty to the carlin not with an oath on the Bible but by the tankard of whiskey he holds-- and by Merry Andrew, who says he "was abus'd i ' the kirk,/F or towsing a lass i ' my daffin" (11.177-78). Since Merry Andrew's

statement can refer to his "rumpling a g irl during a flirta tio n " or

to his "indelicate handling of her," Burns's equivocable language

suggests that the Kirk overreacted when i t censured Merry Andrew.

Much of the diction in "Love and Liberty" is ambivalent, but Burns's

point is usually lucid once one realizes the several possible defi­

nitions of words he selects.

Burns's use of precise, concrete language to make e x p lic it

his attitude toward someone or an event is of a different nature.

In many poems he is u tilizin g the kinds of concreteness that W. K.

Wimsatt labels "the minimum concrete or specific substantive style" 38 and "the extra-concrete, detailed, or more than specific style."

The concrete diction, especially if expressed in the vernacular,

creates a tone that contrasts with the "usual" attitude toward some

subjects and aids Burns in developing levels of irony.

The persona's concrete description of Death in "Death and

Doctor Hornbook" makes him seem a real presence whose conversation with the speaker is credible:

An awfu' scythe, out-owre ae shouther, shoulder Clear-dangling, hang; A three-tae'd leister on the ither trident Lay, large an' lang.

Its stature seem'd lang Scotch e lls twa, The queerest shape that e'er I saw, For fie n t a wame i t had ava, 1 i t t l e belly; at al And then its shanks, They were as thin, as sharp an' sma' As cheeks o' branks. (11.33-42)

Although this account draws on traditional descriptions of Death, the 153 concrete language and the speaker's casual approval of his acquain­ tance create two major effects: Death is localized, shrunk to 39 "kailyard dimensions"; the Kirk's depiction of him as awesome and terrifyin g is reduced to nothingness. Burns's mocking attitude toward the Kirk's trepidation about Death is reinforced by the dialogue he ascribes to Death:

"Folk maun do something for their bread, "An' sae maun Death.

"Sax thousand years are near hand fled "Sin' I was to the butchering bred. ..." (11.71-74)

Death is as casually understated about his profession as a brickmason might be. Throughout the poem, in fact, Burns makes Death speak so simply and naturally that he seems a genial, fam iliar companion. A sim ilar intonation pervades "Address to the D eil," in which the specific diction creates not only a vivid picture of "Auld Clootie" and his deeds but defines Burns's comfortable acceptance of the

Devil as recorded by folklore. Even his expressions of fear lack convincing weight:

The cudgel in my nieve did shake, Each bristl'd hair stood like a stake, When wi' an eldritch, stoor, q u a in k, q u a ic k, harsh Amang the springs, Awa ye squatter'd lik e a , On whistling wings. (11.43-48)

The tone of a relaxed, casual chat with a friend, "Auld Nickie-ben," predominates. The detailed language gives a precise description of the Devil; the vernacular and the re a lis tic details define Burns's comfortable receptivity and establish his hostility to the Kirk's overstated apprehensions. Even a single word can speak volumes about Burns's attitude toward his subject, as in "The Fornicator." 154

When describing the Kirk's punishment, he says he stands there "with

rueful face and signs of grace" (1.17). "Signs" subtly indicates

what the remainder of the poem more e x p lic itly records: he is only

pretending to repent. Furthermore, he implies that the Kirk is

interested only in outward shows of penitence and cares l i t t l e about

internal awareness.

In three other poems in which the speaker is a fiction rather

than Burns himself, the language aids his revelations of their

characters--both those with whom Burns agrees and those he uses

iro n ically. Holy W illie , who professes complacent assurance about

Election, unconsciously divulges his fear of Hell by his verbs--

"plunged," "gnash," "weep," "wail," "yell"; furthermore, his verbs

dramatize his relish for vengeance--"confound" and "blast"— and

his nervousness at the Kirk meeting— "quaking," "sweating," "shaking/1

"p'ss'd," "sneaking," and "hid" (11.20-24,63-64,86-90). In "Author's

Cry and Prayer" the speaker projects himself as a lowly peasant

hesitant to criticize the "great" lords of Parliament:

Does dny g re a t man glunch an1 gloom? Speak out an' never fash your thumb! (11.25-26)

Ne'er claw your lug, an' fidge your back, ear An' human' haw. . . . (11.33-34)

The specifics of his idioms make him sound as i f he is just too

ignorant to recognize the sarcasm in his label for the Fox-North

Coalition—"mixtie-maxtie, queer hotch-potch"—or the innuendo of his ostensible praise of the Members of Parliament: you who "dousely

[prudently and decorously; also, soberly] manage our affairs" 155

(11.125,3). His concluding remarks epitomize his pose as a common petitioner:

God bless your Honors, a' your days, Wi' sowps o' kail an' brats of claise, rags; clothes In spite of a' the thievish kaes thieves That haunt St. Jamie's'. Your humble Bardie sings an' prays While Rab his name is. (11.139-44)

The image of the speaker as a naive, uneducated, common peasant is significant in the success of Burns's monologue; while making his persona express his attack through the implications in his specific language and maintaining a temperate tone that forestalls any angry response from the audience, Burns makes his s a tiric points.

The realistic vernacular of "To a Louse" is similarly suitable to the persona and to the subject matter: an apostrophe to a louse by a gullible rustic in generalized, Augustan English would create an unintentionally ludicrous picture. In depicting the scene, Burns finds a ready flow of expressive phrases in the vernacular. All the verbs--not drawn from books but from life--are exactly right for describing the louse's movements and the persona's changing attitudes toward the vermin. Moreover, Bentman argues that Burns employs "provincial words, picturesque spelling, and conversational sounding diction" as a means to "create an ironically oafish speaker, one who looks at the world with wide-eyed astonishment and l i t t l e 40 apparent understanding." Such a projection of the persona's character is crucial to the dramatic monologue form used here and to Burns's unfolding of a ll the targets of his satire. I t is not only Jenny's pride and pretense that are mocked but also the 156

speaker's naive b e lie f that of flaws necessarily evolves

from awareness of them.

Burns also uses specific diction to characterize the nature of those whom he and his personae attack. The forceful ness of

Ceasar's verbs in "The Twa Dogs" pronounces Burns's indictments:

Poor tenant-bodies, scant o' cash, How they maun thole a f a c to r 's snash; endure; abuse H e'll stamp an' threaten, curse an' swear, H e'll apprehend them, p o in d their gear, seize While they maun stand, wi' aspect humble, A1 An' hear i t a “, an' fear an' tremble! (11.95-100)

Ceasar's use of concrete idiom obviates some of the disadvantages of attacking the general activities of a large, undifferentiated mass.

Sim ilarly attacking the arrogance and indifference of a large group,

"Second Epistle to Lapraik" depends on plain statement; but the stated antipathy is accented by single words that stand out in the passage:

Do ye envy thec ity - g e n t, Behint a kist to lie an' sklent, coffer; squint greedily Or purse-proud, big w i' cent per cent, An' muckle warne. . . . (11.61-64)

"Sklent" and "big wi' cent per cent" intensify his representation of a type of individual. When Burns la te r refers to these people as

"cits," he is borrowing a commonly used derogatory Augustan 42 abbreviation. He attacks the same general group more outspokenly in "To M'Math":

But I gae mad at th eir grimaces, Their sighan, cantan, grace-prood faces, Their three-mile prayers, an' hauf-mile graces, Their raxan conscience, elastic Whase greed, revenge, an' pride disgraces Waur nor th eir nonsense. (11.19-24) 157

In each of the three poems the concrete and realistic diction pre­ vents the attacks of unspecified masses from remaining vaguely general; the language also specifies those particular characteristics r*tt that Burns finds repugnant.

In "The Holy Fair" Burns presents demeaning portraits of the multitudes and of specific individuals even while he maintains the fic tio n of an objective persona. Although the ‘persona projects himself as a recording observer, not a judge or interpreter of events, his labels and descriptive details discredit the participants at the fa ir . When describing an Auld Licht minister, the speaker records what he sees, but Burns has consciously selected language that mocks him:

Here how he clears the point o' Faith Wi' r a ttlin an' thumpin! Now meekly calm now wild in wrath, He's stampan, an' he's jumpan! His lengthen'd chin, his turn'd up snout, His eldritch squeel an' gestures, 0 how they fire the heart devout, Like cantharidian plaisters. . . . (11.109-16)

Similarly unflattering, a depiction of the Moderate minister is remarkably differen t in its diction and overall suggestions:

What signifies his barren shine, Of moral p o w 'rs an' veason\ His English style, an' gesture fin e, Are a' clean out o' season. Like SOCRATES or ANTONINE, Or some auld pagan heathen, The m oral man he does define, But ne'er a word o' f a i t h A n That's right that day. (11.127-35)

Such phrases as "snout," "squeel," "rattlin," and "barren shine" are 158

especially sarcastic; Burns has seized on the central qualities of

each faction--the emotional, s tirrin g delivery of Auld Licht preachers

and the calmer, more rational appeal by the New Lichts—and exaggerated 43 them into satiric exposes. Even the speaker's initial reports about

the three "hizzies" (meaning "wench" or "whore" or "silly girl") are

provacative. "Fun," who approaches "hap-step-an1 loup [briskly]" is described in such a way that a dominant motif is introduced: fun, superstition, and hypocrisy will surface in spite of the Kirk's attempts to repress them—the Kirk its e lf w ill even exemplify two of these attributes. Concrete language thus joins with other poetic techniques in "The Holy Fair" to advance Burns's s a tiric theme.

In the later poetry Burns again finds in language the proper­ ties that allow both specific exactness and ambiguous suggestion.

The later pieces illu s tra te sim ilar techniques to those he u tilizes in the early satires: sexual puns imply his assault on society's rigidity; concrete specificity reveals how and why a persona is a s a tiric target; exactness in diction exposes Burns's attitudes toward his targets.

Only two later poems exhibit Burns's use of ambivalent lan­ guage in order to make sexual innuendoes. Sexual suggestiveness in

"Wha'll M_w Me Now" helps the female persona and Burns convey hos­ t i l i t y toward the hypocritical who dare judge her immoral. She characterizes herself as a "merry a " and assails the deceit of the upper class woman whose "c t's as merry's mine"; "merry," a colloquialism for a "harlot," stresses her point.^ Although 159

"dungeons" does not seem an ambiguous word, when used in this context—

"And they've [Court of Session] provided dungeons deep,/Ilk lass has ane in her possession"--the sexual innuendo is clear ("Act Sedurant of the Session," 11.9-10). The Court did cast fornicators into prison; Burns quibbles on the penalty so that fornicators are punished by having to fornicate. Although there are many bawdy poems and others that challenge the Kirk's restrictions on sexual expression,

Burns's la te r poems illu s tra te fewer sexual ambiguities than the early poems do. Part of the explanation is that his later satires are usually more outspokenly e x p lic it in their attacks.

More commonly in the la te r satires, Burns employs concrete language to create a vivid picture of his satiric targets. "Reply to a Tailor," "Tam o' Shanter," "When Princes and Prelates," "Epistle to Graham," and "Esopus to Maria" illu s tra te the diverse uses to which he puts concrete language.

The concrete diction in "Reply to a Tailo r," "When Princes and

Prelates," and "Epistle to Graham" aids in delineating Burns's satiric point; although none of the three depends on or uniformly u tilizes specifics, each shows how much is added by ju s t a few concrete words. The vivid nouns with which Burns describes himself in "Reply" convey his unconcern for judgmental moralists and his disregard for the tailor's criticism as well as his only half-mocking defense: And maybe, Tam, for a* my cants, My wicked rhymes, an* drucken rants, I ' l l gie auld cloven Clooty's haunts An unco slip yet, An1 snugly s it amang the saunts At Davie's hip yet. (11.19-24)

In "When Princes and Prelates" the concreteness of his advice for

Catherine the Great--"May the deil in her a ram a hugh pr_ck o'

brass!/And damn her in h 11 with a mowe!"--gives an e x p lic itly vul­

gar tone to a poem which offers "mowing" (copulation) as a desirable

substitute for war (11.23-24). Describing the Duke of Brunswick's

invasion of France, he says, "When Br_nsw__ck's great Prince cam a

cruising to Frjnce/Republican billies to cowe" (11.9-10). "Cruising"

is too casual, "b illie s " too fam iliar, and "cowe" too homely for a

serious account of a major invasion; but Burns implies that p o liti­ cal leaders too casually plot th eir wars. Burns's oversimplified descriptions of army movements, motives for war, and victories emphasize the s a tiric theme; he downgrades the professed noble motives that leaders mouth and reduces the "powerful" to the same level as the commoner--all do share in common the need to "mowe." Burns gives few specific details in "Epistle to Graham," choosing to depend on a generalized depiction of armies and battles that conveys the sense of noise, flurry, and bloodletting. When he does insert concrete parti- culars--"While WELSH, who never flinch'd his ground,/High-wav'd his magnum bonum round/With Cyclopean fury"—he stresses his mockery by exaggerating the language and by interrelating it with extravagant imagery (11.46-48). The specifics in his portrait of the Duke of

Queensberry leave no doubt that Burns's professed concern for the 161

battlers is only assumed as an ironic device:

I'll sing the zeal Drumlanrig bears, Queensberry's Wha left the all-important cares estate Of fiddles, whjres and hunters; And, bent on buying Borough-towns, Cam shaking hands w i1 wabster-louns, weaver-rascals And kissing barefit bunters.--(ll.7 - 12)

In each of the three pieces Burns adds intensity to poems that would

be recognized as s a tiric were the concreteness absent; that is,

specifics in word choice are helpful but not indispensable to our

realization of his attack*

"Tam o' Shanter's" effectiveness, however, is largely depen­ dent on the concrete sense of movement, facial expressions, and

emotions that are stimulated by the diction. The wife of a man who

lingers to drink is "nursing her wrath to keep i t warm" so that she can unleash i t on Tam, "a skellum,/A blethering, blustering, drunken blell urn" (11.12,19-20). The vitality of the words creates a dramatic scene of . It is the verbs that alert us to Tam's supersti­ tious mind, although the narrator does not take us inside Tam's consciousness:

Tam skelpit on thro' dub and mire, rushed Despising wind, and rain, and fire ; Whiles holding fast his gude blue bonnet; Whiles crooning o'er some auld Scots ; Whiles glowring round w i' prudent cares, Lest bogles catch him unawares. . . . (11.81-86) ghosts

The scene at the kirkyard (11.101-50) receives the speaker's careful observation. His record of each detail effectively conveys Tam's subjective state and, more important, the speaker's own superstitious, mesmerized interest in the events; he is too emotionally intent to 162

remember to moralize about the awesome D evil, the sin of lechery, or

Tam's intoxication. The specific diction rapidly carries Tam, the witches, the speaker, and us to the river; Burns e ffic ie n tly and conpisely describes the movements and the speaker's sympathy with


Now, do thy speedy utmost, Meg, And win the key-stane of the brig; There at them thou thy ta il may toss, A running stream they dare na cross. But ere the key-stane she could make, The fie n t a ta il she had to shake! the devil a For Nannie, far before the rest, Hard upon noble Maggie prest, And flew at Tam wi’ furious ettle. . . . purpose (11.205-13)

He gives a particularized account that leaves no vagueness about the outcome. And Burns shows us that the speaker he mocks is unable to remain the detached, high-minded nay-sayer to Tam.

Selection of language is also important to Burns's characteri­ zation of Esopus as a pretentious fool who in his self-assumed importance and his attempted defense of Maria only reveals the depths of his ignorance ("Esopus to Maria"). While trying to impress upon

Maria his dire condition, he cannot avoid meaningless adjectives that he thinks give intensity to his tale: "Turnkeys make the jealous portal fast,/Then deal from iron hands the spare repast" (11.3-4).

Why the doors are jealous is incomprehensible; Kinsley's suggestion that the word is used to mean "vigilant in guarding" or "darkening" 45 does not account for the more obvious synonym, "envious." Esopus's point in characterizing the guards' indifference by calling their hands "iron" is clearer, but he is still overstating, as if begging 163 for Maria's pity--and if he must beg, how much does she care for him?

Then he lists "tiny thieves" as being fellow prisoners; what he means is unintelligible., When he speaks of his "wretched lines" i t is probable that he means he is wretched while w riting, not that the verse itself is execrable; ironically, the latter is as true a ing as the former (1.11). Esopus thinks he compliments Maria's elo­ quence, but the verbs suggest she is a mindless chatter box: "S till she, undaunted, reels and rattles on,/And dares the public 1 ike a noontide sun!" (11.43-44)„ By repeating others' remarks, Esopus unwittingly abuses her: "What scandal call'd Maria's janty stagger/

The ricket reeling of a crooked swagger?" (11.44-45). The im pli­ cations escape the letter-wri ter when he tries to praise her by say­ ing she has a "seeming want of art" (1.47). He seeks pity when he tr ite ly moans that the thought of prison "pillows on the thorn n\y racked repose," that he undergoes "durance v ile ," and that he must to "all my frowzy Couch in sorrow steep" (11.57-60). He misses the innuendo of "In a ll of thee, sure, thy Esopus shares" and "thy s t ill matchless tongue . . . conquers a ll reply" (11.73,83). His most precise of her are borrowed from her opponents, such as "Who calls thee pert, affected, vain Coquette,/A wit in fo lly and a fool in wit?" (11.75-76). Diction is indispensable to our realization of Burns's target; the affected and insipid language that

Esopus selects brands Maria and him as fools.

Except in "Act Sedurant," where the dual meanings of "dungeons" express the crux of the attack and in "Esopus to Maria" and "Tam o' 164

Shanter," where varied diction gives unity and s a tiric coherence to each, Burns's la te r satires do not show the dynanism available from concrete language or the subtle implications afforded by ambiguous words. He flexes his vocabulary in more diverse ways in the earlier poems. In many of them--e.g. "The Ordination," "The Fornicator,"

"Dedication to Hamilton," and "Second Epistle to lapraik"—a single word gives essential support to other s a tiric elements; some derive a large part of their concentrated impact from his patterned manipu­ lation of language—as in "Love and Liberty," "Libel Summons," and

"Death and Doctor Hornbook." In the e a rlie r satires he depends more on ambiguities and specific diction to indicate his own attitude and to persuade us to agree with his attacks; in the later poems, the concreteness and ambiguities are more often ornamental than functional.

His arrangement of words, the syntax of his poetry, is ju st as important to Burns's development of satire as are his choices of diction and his juxtapositions of d ifferent kinds of language.

Syntax is one of the poet's most powerful ways of making an utterance meaningful, for i t conveys the relationships behind the sequence of words and controls the order in which impressions are received by the reader. Sometimes the effect of Burns's syntax is inextricably bound with the thrust of the language, as in "The Holy Fair's" description of the three ministers; both the words themselves and the arrangement of the words characterize the men (11.109-17,127-35,136-44).

Frequently, syntax and vernacular Scots cooperate in creating a con­ versational, fluent tone, as in "Address to the Deil" (such as 11.91-120) 165

that either ironically contrasts with the supposed magnitude of the

topic or reinforces the poet's explicit attitude. In general,

Burns's syntax follows the sequence of conversational speech; it

is characterized by loose and accumulative rather than periodic sentences, "normal" subject-verb order, e llip tic a l statements common

to spoken utterances, and simple constructions. Two matters have special bearing on his satires: the ways in which he uses specific

features of his syntax to create satiric effects; and the manner in which he combines several syntactical features in order to secure satiric intensity and alterations in tone.

First, in all the stanzaic patterns that he employs Burns skillfully utilizes the benefits of anti-climax. That is, in one line (or several) he seems to develop a line of thought and create in us certain expectations of a natural conclusion to that thought; then, he deftly twists the idea into a jib e that identifies the mocking intonation of the sentence or stanza. For example, in a couplet in "Death and Dying Words of Mailie" the abstraction of the first line--itself appropriate to a serious elegy--is made specifically applicable to sheep in the second line: "0, bid him save their harm­ less lives,/Frae dogs an' tods [foxes], an' butchers' knives"; such a twist coalesces with the thrust of the mock elegy's attacks of the bathos and banality of some elegies (11.29-30). In "When Guilford

Good" he concludes a stanza describing warlike activities of British generals: "But Cl_nt_n's glaive frae rust tb save/He hung i t to the wa' (11.31-32). The second line forces a reversal of our expectation 166 and the surprise of i t focuses attention on Clinton's cowardice.

Apparently describing the diagnostic prowess of Hornbook ("6eath and

Doctor Hornbook"), Death recounts a specific example of the doctor's techniques:

"A countra Laird had ta'en the batts, colic "Or some curmurring in his guts, flatulence "His only son for Bombook sets, "And pays him w ell, "The lad, for twa guid gimmer-pets, yearling ewes "Was Laird himsel." (11.157-62)

The dimeter line that carries the stanza's satiric point is not particularly surprising since Death has in earlier passages indicted

Hornbook for k illin g many of his patients; there is shock, however, in the implication that the doctor's greed rather than his incompetence has made him deliberately murder. The same poem contains a more complicated twist that strikes at more than one target. The persona swears:

But this that I am gaun to tell, Which lately on a night befel, Is just as true's the Dei Vs in h jl, Or Dublin city. . . . (11.7-10)

Not only are the Irish singled out for ridicule and the speaker's veracity questioned, but Crawford argues that "there is an underlying audacity which implies that the Devil is not in Hell or even in

Dublin--but that he is just as much a fabrication as the story whose 46 truth Burns vouches for so loudly."

The conventional Christ's Kirk opening of "Mauchline Wedding" moves rapidly from a sketching of the scene to a definition of the poem's topic: 167

Now Merchant Master M ille r, Gaed down to meet w i' Nansie Bell And her Jamaica s ille r , To wed, that day. — (11.6-9)

Part of the satiric target is thus defined by the coordinate link­ ing of Nansie Bell and silver; because of the proximity of "to wed" and "s ille r" Burns gains more emphasis than i f "to wed" were placed with "to meet." Such twists of the dimeter lines in the Standard

Habbie stanza convey much of the speaker's defiance of Kirk dogma in

"Address to the D eil." The persona's understatement—

I'm sure sma' pleasure i t can gie, Ei/'n to a deil, To skelp an' scaud poor dogs like me, An' hear us squeel! (11.9-12)— reverses the that Satan wholeheartedly delights torturing sinners. ^ Posing as a concerned observer, the speaker con­ cludes his address with an outrageous suggestion: "Ye aiblins might—

I dinna ken—/S t ill hae a stake" (11.123-24). This surprising con­ cession seems to f i t the persona's friendly attitude toward Satan.

The concluding generalized observation of "To a Louse" gains impact because Burns has reserved for the climactic position his most speci­ fic attack and has divided the compound subject so that he can empha­ size the point: "What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,/And ev'n

Devotion!" The speaker's remarks about pretense in manners and a ttire are led into by the poem's specific data; until this last twist of thought, however, we have heard l i t t l e about religion, for the fact that the scene is played out in church is mentioned but not emphasized.

In "Extempore--to Hamilton" he utilizes a repetitious pattern of 168 concluding each quatrain with "Naething." After a few quatrains the pattern becomes clear and is anticipated; but in early stanzas, such as the second, expectations are subverted:

Ne'er scorn a poor Poet lik e me, For idly just living and breathing, While people of every degree Are busy employed about— naething.—

"Important matters" would be more usual than "nothing"; that wrench of the anticipated conclusion establishes the satiric nature of the rest of the epistle. The antitheses in some couplets of "Libel

Summons" contribute to the jovial tone of this pseudo-legalistic record of a "Court of Equity." The twisted logic of "YOUR CRIME, a manly deed we view it,/A s MAN ALONE, can only do it" and "To TELL

THE TRUTH'S a manly lesson,/An' doubly proper in A MASON" underlines the poet's boisterous tone (11.109-10,34-35).

In other early poems Burns utilizes parallel structures, ques­ tions, and imperatives in order to achieve diverse effects important to his satire. In "The Holy Fair" contrasted ideas in sim ilar grammatical structures suggest the duplicity of the sqperficially

"grace-proud faces" of the ministers. The balanced sentences accent the incongruities in people's behavior and motives: "Here, some are thinkan on their sins,/An' some upo' their claes" (11.82-83). In this couplet he makes two diverse concepts equivalent: "There's some are fou o' love d iv in e \ lThere's some are fou o' brandy (11.239-40).

Such equating is characteristic of the poem's uncritical description of the demands of both spiritual and sensual desires. Parallelism also emphasizes an idea in "To Simpson— Postscript." The parallelism 169

lu lls us into certain expectations until near the end of the stanza

when the pattern is broken; the interruption creates emphasis for

the culminating blow:

Frae less to mair i t gaed to sticks; Frae words an* aiths to clours an' nicks; bumps An' monie a fallow gat his licks, Wi1 hearty crunt; An' some, to learn them for their tricks, Were hang'd an' brunt. (11.145-50)

In "To M'Math" parallelism cumulatively builds an idea he initiates

in one stanza and carries into the next. Speaking of those "Who

boldly dare thy cause maintain/in spite of . . ." he begins lis tin g

a ll those people "in spite of . . ." whom he attacks; he abandons

the pattern in order to gain emphasis in his most sarcastic lines:

"By scoundrels, even wi' holy robes,/But hellish spirit" (11.71-79).

Sometimes Burns inserts questions, as in "Second Epistle to Lapraik,"

that demand the reader to participate in the poem and decide if he is a s a tiric target himself or in agreement with Burns: "Do ye envy

the c ity - g e n t . . . (11=61-62), Creating a different effect, the questions and apostrophes in "Address to the Deil" argue that the

Devil is an attentive audience to this monologue--he is humanized and

fam iliarized because the speaker directs questions to him.

Some of Burns's most a rtis tic satires are those in which he combines different syntactical features, letting the shifts accord with the subject matter and the changing tones of the speaker. In

"Holy W illie 's Prayer" W illie's varied syntax reflects his state of mind as he shifts his focus among s e lf, God, Hamilton, women, and drink. Except for the fourth stanza, the f ir s t five stanzas of the 170 poem share d is tin c t features--the Biblical language is clearly and easily enunciated. The predominance of monosyllabic words creates a slow-paced, psalm-like movement; his glorying in his self-assumed

Election reeks of smug self-assurance:

I bless and praise thy matchless might, When thousands thou has le f t in night, That I am here before thy sight, For g ifts and grace, A burning and a shining lig h t To a* this place.--(11.7-12)

But when he alludes to his sins, the stateliness of the long, grace­ ful sentences disappears; the mode of syntax becomes hesitant, broken, short bursts of fragmented thought:

But y e t--0 L d—confess I must—

0 L d—yestreen— thou kens—w i' Meg—

Wi' Leezie's lass, three times— I trow— But L d, that friday [sic] I was fou. . . .(11.37,43,50-51)

He becomes emotionally overwrought, even morally indignant, when he thinks of Hamilton; in imperatives he orders God to hurt Hamilton:

L d, in thy day o' vengeance try him! L d v is it him that <^id employ him! And pass not in thy mercy by them, Nor hear their prayer; But for thy people's sake destroy them, And dinna spare! (11.91-96)

Whereas Willie alternates syntax in a sequential pattern, the speaker of "Author's Cry and Prayer" more variedly intermingles d if­ ferent syntaxes that reflect his constantly vacillating tone. The opening stanza illu strates Burns's strategy and his prevailing tone: 171

Ye IRISH LORDS, yek n ig h ts an' s q u ire s, Wha represent our BRUGHS an' SHIRES, An' dousely manage our affairs In P a rlia m e n t, To you a simple Bardie's pray'rs Are humbly sent.

The force of the thought comes in the beginning of the periodic sentence, with the last two lines presented as a modest a fte r­ thought— but the total meaning of the sentence depends on the last two lines. Addressing "Ye Irish Lords," rather than Scots, is a clever way to capture attention, for he insinuates that the English mi sal locate Parliamentary seats. The praise of the MP's is also designed to garner their favor, as is his modesty ("simple," "humbly," and "prayers" all characterize the speaker's purported subservience).

He gains a conversational quality through such tactics in language; and with low-key imperatives and anti-clim ax, he secures emphasis:

Tell them wha hae the chief direction, S co tla n d and me's- in great affliction, E'er sin' they laid that curst restriction On AQUAVITAE; An' rouse them up to strong conviction, An1 move their pity. (11.13-18)

Throughout the monologue he combines questions, exclamations of g rie f and anger, imperatives, and quiet statements of fact in order to voice his concern, derision, and advice. He never outrightly insults the MP's but lets syntax, juxtapositions, and anti-climax in dimeter lines emphasize his scorn:

Some o' you nicely ken the laws, To round the period an' pause, An' with rhetoric clause on clause To mak harangues. . . . (11.67-70)

The thrust of Burns's attack is im plicit; he never lets his speaker become openly scornful or angry, yet so s k illfu lly merges different tones that the satire is evident and the tone never abrasive.

Comparably, Burns intermingles into the "Address of Beelzebub" a flex ib le combination of imperatives, questions, periodic sentences, smoothly flowing parallelism, and interrupted syntax. Apparent humility governs the persona's opening and closing lines. He speaks calmly in normal subject-verb order with parallelism in some lines unifying his thir*d stanza (11.13-16,22-26). When he begins to advise the Highland Society about actions they should take against the potential emigrees, he speaks short bursts of emphatic imperatives whose many active verbs underline his anger:

But smash them! crush them a' to spails! splinters An' rot the DYVORS i ' the JAILS! bankrupt The young dogs, swinge them to the labour, Let WARK an' HUNGER mak them sober! (11.39-42)

The angry emphasis remains even when he changes to lengthier sentences

Get out a HORSE-WHIP, or a JOWLER, The langest thong, the fiercest growler, An' gar the ta tte r'd gipseys pack compel Wi' a' their bastarts on their back! (11.49-52)

The closing stanza returns to the quieter tone of the opening, with

Beelzebub apparently extending sincere welcome to the Society members; beneath the serenity of his persona's voice, Burns is sarcastic.

Beelzebub calmly concludes by describing the forthcoming fe s tiv itie s at his "HOUSE AT HAME"; thus, the satire drops to a lower key at the point of greatest intensity of meaning and of moral fervor. Burns controls the modulations in his persona's tone with deliberate intent. 173

Among the la te r satires the syntax continues to aid his attacks.

Burns does not introduce new techniques or u tiliz e anti-climax or other

syntactical features more often or more skillfully than in the early

poems. Anti-climax with its surprise reversals of prepared-for endings

remains a useful tool for emphasizing the unimportance of some con­

cepts. Other features--interrogatives, imperatives, catalogues in

parallel grammatical forms, inversion of normal subject-verb order-- add unity, demand the reader's participation in scorning the target, and accentuate certain ideas.

Burns's use of anti-climax helps him to convey the tone and

target of his attacks. In some of the later satires the thrust of an anti-climactic couplet is the initial indicator of his mocking to'ne.

For example, in "The F£te Champetre" the f ir s t stanza's questions establish the general topic: who will be elected to Parliament.

The f ir s t couplet of the next stanza--"Come, w ill ye court a noble

Lord,/Or buy a score o'Lairds, man?" identifies Burns's motive for mockery. Sim ilarly in "Buy Braw Troggin" the opening defines the song's topic, but the second stanza c la rifie s Burns's intention of not merely describing but satirizin g local leaders:

Here's a noble Earl's Fame and high renown, For an auld sang-- It's thought the Gudes were stown. (11.9-12)

The poem continues this pattern of naming someone, then exposing his corruption. Continuing to dash aroused expectations, while listing those who will be contesting the election at Kirkcudbright, Burns adds such comments as: "And there w ill be wealthy young RICHARD--/Damie 174

Fortune should hing by the neck" ( “Second Heron Ballad," 11.49-50).

The persona of "Johnie B's Lament" states:

And there R_dc_stle drew the sword That ne'er was stain'd w i' gore; Save on a wanderer, lame and blind, To drive him frae his door.--(11.57-60)

Adding to his e x p lic it indictments of the Duke of Queensberry, Burns begins an apparent defense of the Duke; then he decreases the dignity he has just given the man: "But cautious Queensberry le f t the war,/

Th' unmanner'd dust might soil his star,/Besides, he hated Bleeding"

("Epistle to Graham," 11.19-21). Similarly in "Laddies by the Banks o' Nith" he lists a series of actions possible to the Duke; then he emphatically subverts our anticipation of praise:

The day he stude his country's friend, Or gied her faes a claw, Jamie, Or frae puir man a blessin wan, That day the Duke ne'er saw. . . . (11.9-12)

By building the reader's anticipation of a concluding thought or emotion, Burns gains emphasis for his attack when he denies those expectations and concludes with a remark that decreases the importance 48 or dignity of someone orsome idea.

Not only his view of political incidents receives emphasis from distortions of expected endings; Burns's opinions about the relationship between morality and sexuality are also revealed in the thrust of anti-climaxes. In "Epistle to Graham" he implies his repugnance for the sneaky tactics of those who use fornication for selfish gain: 175

Mcmurdo and his lovely Spouse, (Th' enamour'd laurels kiss her brows) Led on the Loves and Graces: She won each gaping Burgess' heart, While he, sub rosa, play'd his part Among their wives and lasses.— (11.31-36)

An ending stanza of "Reply to a Tailor" gives an emphatic c(lose to his epistle's attack of the ta ilo r or anyone who c ritic ize s Burns's sexual integrity:

"When next w i1 yon lass I forgather, "Whate'er betide it, " I ' l l frankly g i'e her 't a' thegither, "An' le t her guide it . " (11.63-66)

That implied vulgarity more openly colors the whole of "Ode to Spring."

Obscene words scattered amid the pastoral phrases suggest his deliberate distortion of flowery odes. His concluding couplets for each of the three stanzas bring each strophe to a satisfying conclusion: "T ill

Damon, fie rc e, mistim'd his a ,/And f 'd quite out of tune, Sir"

(11.23-24; see also 11.7-8,15-16).

In most of the later pieces Burns u tilize s a normal subject- verb pattern and "loose" sentences, as in "Extempore, Court of Sessions" where he arranges short clauses--each two lines long--into partial units of thought that are then integrated smoothly with other lines.

Similarly "Epistle to Graham" reflects the ease of conversational speech appropriate in a letter to a close friend:

Fintry, my stay in worldly strife, Friend o' my Muse, Friend o' my Life, Are ye as idle's I am? Come then, w i' uncouth, kintra fleg, kick O'er Pegasus I'll fling my leg, And ye shall see me try him.--(11.1-6)

In these lines Burns seems unconcerned about the "correct" order of 176 subject-verb, adverb-verb, etc.; because of his confident assurance with the vernacular, he can attain both "correctness" and prosy vigor,

In contrast, he sometimes distorts syntax in order to make the sentence accord with a stanzaic formula. In "The Calf" he makes each quatrain conclude with a word synonymous with "calf"; he sustains the pattern without straining, except in one stanza where e llip tic a l phrasing and out-of-place modifiers create some awkwardness:

And, in your lug, most reverend J , ear To hear you roar and rowte, bellow Few men o' sense w ill doubt your claims To rank amang the Nowte. (11.17-20) cattle

The initial series of questions in "The F§te Champetre" intro­ duces the bouncy rhythm of this lig h tly mocking account of p o liti­ cians'tactics; the parallelism in their structure affirms Burns's con­ trolling attitude. A repeated pattern in "The Kirk of Scotland's

Garland" gives a distinctive rhythm:

Doctor Mac, Doctor Mac, ye should streek on a rack, To strike Evildoers with terror; To join FAITH and SENSE upon any pretence Was heretic, damnable error. . . . (11.6-9)

His uniform use of this pattern creates a rigid structural pattern for the poem--itself essentially a li s t of people Burns attacks. The cumulative effects create the dominant impression that a ll Burns's opponents really are hypocritical, incompetent fools; but the monotony of the reiteration tends to cause the reader's attention to wander.

Even more monotonous arid lacking obvious purpose is the parallelism of inverted structures in "Monody on Maria." Negative remarks in para 11 ell structures— "how cold is . . ./How pale is. . . ."—link the 177 f ir s t two stanzas. In the last two stanzas he repeats "We'llsearch

. ../We'll [verb]. . . pattern and "Want only of . . ./Want. . . ." in the epitaph. Other than giving some unity to what is basically a list of insulting epithets, the parallelism does not add satiric in­ tensity. Parallelism in "Second Heron Ballad" is boringly repetitious:

And there will beStamp-offi.ee Johnie, Tak tent how ye purchase a dram: And there w ill be gayC -es-neary, And there will be glegColonel Tam. quick-witted And there w ill be trusty KIROCHTREE. . . . (11.57-61)

The similar grammatical patterns do not add intensity to a straight­ forward attack but only give an obviously artificial structure to a series of names. The catalogues of questions in "Esopus to Maria" are more s k illfu lly handled, because they are integrated with other tech­ niques and are not the sole source of unity:

What scandal call'd Maria's janty stagger The ricket reeling of a crooked swagger? What slander nam'd her seeming want o f art The flimsey wrapper of a rotten heart. . . . (11.45-48; see also 11.49-56, 63-70,74-83)

Esopus may be interested in answers, but the questions serve Burns as rhetorical; they are a way to le t Esopus unwittingly damn Maria and reveal his own lack of perspicacity.

Among the la te r satires "Tam o' Shanter" best exemplifies syntactical features that are both s k illfu lly blended and essential to Burns's s a tiric development. In general, the speaker intermingles two distinctive styles, varying according to which events he is recording and which attitude he is projecting. In contrast to the

"intensified speaking idiom" which "allows Burns to play upon his 178

subject with an endless fusillade of invention, exuberantly playing or attacking from all angles in rapid succession" is the inflated 49 bombast that yields a ponderous, a r tific ia l rhythm. The prologue

(11.1-35) illu s trates the variations in syntax that characterize the poem. The speaker sets a scene in an in itia l twelve-line sentence;

the smoothly flowing series of modifiers and dependent clauses demon­ strate Burns's assurance with the vernacular and the speaker's relaxed approval of events. The persona's f ir s t intrusion of moral counsel is voiced in shorter bursts of thought; the apostrophe, imperative, and abruptness call attention to his change in tone: "0 Taml hadst thou but been sae wise,/As ta'en thy ain wife Kate’s advice!" (11.17-18).

The subsequent lines recreate the style of a nagging wife's speech

(11.19-27). The accusations hurled in parallel clauses build a cumulative effect that rises to the indignation in "even on Sunday";

Burns has incorporated in his speaker's style "the angry tones of Kate's voice" and has given in "rich folk idiom a vivid parody of the peren- 50 nially scolding wife." When describing the stormy night and Tam's movements before he arrives at the kirkyard, the speaker moves con­ fidently from point to point, lettin g parallel clauses reveal Tam's superstition and build our curiosity about Tam's experience:

By this time he was cross the ford, Whare, in the snaw, the chapman smoor'd; was smothered And past the birks and rneikle stane, birches; much Whare drunken Chca‘lie brak's neck-bane; And thro' the whins, and by the cairn, gorse Whare hunters fand the murder'd bairn. . . .(11.89-94; see also 11.81-85)

The verbs and verb parts vividly dramatize situations in the form of 179 actions that seem to unfold in our mind's eye; Burns's language and syntax v ita liz e the witches' dance:

As Tommie glow'rd, amaz'd, and curious, The mirth and fun grew fast and furious: The pipers loud and louder blew; The dancers quick and quicker flew; They re el'd , they set, they cVoss'd, they c le e k it, clutched T ill ilka carlin swat and reekit, sweated; And coost her duddies to the wark, smoked And linket at it in her sark! (11.143-50)

Craig praises the mdmentum that these clauses build,saying the flow of the words "is at one with the action"; he argues that Burns, be­ cause his "speech habits were mainly colloquial, with little interrup­ tion of a printed standard, ran straight from speech through into 51 poetry." In contrast, the stiffness of a cumbersome syntax dominates when the speaker ceases to react instinctively to what he experiences and remembers his pose as a high-minded, disinterested outsider. Then he becomes more "literary" in language and sentence pattern, consciously imitating epic rhetoric and "aureate" diction:

But pleasures are lik e poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or lik e the snow fa lls in the riv e r, A moment white— then melts for ever; Or lik e the borealis race, That flit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow's lovely form Evanishing amid the storm.--(11.59-66)

The narrator's repeated intrusion of exaggerately formal sentence patterns and elaborate diction'reveals that he tries to judge Tam harshly. But the vacillation between this "fine writing" and the prosy conversational syntax emphasizes, as do language and imagery, that the speaker cannot find a consistent style any more than he can maintain detachment. 180

Burns seems to have recognized the advantages of varying syntax.

Anti-climax is especially effective when placed in the dimeter lines

of Standard Habbie stanzas where the shortness of the line forces care­

ful scrutiny of the idea presented. In other verse forms also he can

surprise the audience by beginning with seeming praise and then shatter­

ing our expectations when he expresses criticism. Interrogatives not

only add a conversational effect, suggesting we or characters in the

poem are listening; in one poem--"Second Epistle to Lapraik"—ques­

tions demand that we either confess our vices or share Burns's condemna­

tion of a greedy and arrogant man. Parallelism, besides adding unity,

also by force of repetition emphasizes major lines of attack. Impera­

tives, of course, accentuate specific ideas but also produce shifts

in tone that f i t Burns's purposes. Early and la te r poems exemplify

these syntactical features, but the later satires do not demonstrate an increase in quantity or quality. In fact, of the three most success­

ful achievements in combining various syntactical features, two are early poems: "Address of Beelzebub," "Holy W illie 's Prayer," and "Tam o' Shanter."


In addition to the effects he derives from contrasting levels of language, from qualities of specific words, and from syntax, Burns frequently utilizes other prosodic devices to reinforce his s a tiric attacks. Aware that sourids--their relative speed, their suggestive­ ness, and their patterns of regularity or irregularity—can affect our 181 responses to a poem as much as the semantic content does, Burns often molds prosodic elements with his s a tiric themes and topics. Of concern here are not a ll elements of Burns's tone poetry but those features that blend with his satiric attacks. He uses alliteration to emphasize antitheses, to secure more intense unity of ideas or emotion, and to achieve modulation in rhythm. Sim ilarly, his rhythmical and rhyming patterns help to create unity, to stress key points, and to define tone.

Between his early and later poems, there is no observable increase in his use of prosody to develop satiric ideas; nor is there illu s tratio n that he becomes more skilled at interweaving auditory devices with other elements of attack.

None of Burns's satires is composed to ta lly of only masculine or only feminine or only internal rhyme. He uses all three types of rhyme in various combinations in order to obtain specific effects, with masculine rhyme he can achieve a forceful, vigorous emphasis on particular ideas; from the feminine rhymes he gains a lig h te r, quicker effect well suited to much of his light mockery; with internal rhyme he secures a bounciness that stresses his flippant tone. The rhyming choices he makes thus enable him to stress what other features in the poems may also be emphasizing: specific flaws, alterations in attitude, connections between apparently antithetical ideas, characters of per­ sonae. For example, in "Holy W illie 's Prayer" Burns depends mainly on masculine rhymes; he reserves the occasional feminine rhymes for special effects made more noticeable because he diverges from the dominant pattern.. Because only five words in the f ir s t stanza have 182 more than one syllable each and because the stanza uses masculine s'hyme, W illie 's in itia l profession of faith has a slow and solemn emphasis befitting the speaker's assumed grandeur. In contrast, while the polysyllabic words in stanza three call to our attention W illie's pompous sense of self-worth, the feminine endings suggest that W illie should not be judged as pious as he pretends he is. Sim ilarly, the unstressed double rhymes in stanza five--"sample," "ample," "temple,"

"example"--reiterate Burns's suggestion that W illie is the focus of attack. Sometimes W illie's rhymes--such as "dishonor" and "upon her" when he haltingly refers to his lu st—make major exposures: W illie is hesitant to mention his sins; Burns is slyly sarcastic; and the forced rhyme creates a comic tone.

In other early poems Burns's combinations of masculine and feminine rhymes help clarify his attitude as well as stress certain concepts. Although Beelzebub thinks he praises British generals,

Burns can imply that he sees the British from a harsher point of view; rhyming "Sackville" and "pack vile" is meant to cut ("Address of

Beelzebub," 11.21-22). By using the stressed rhymes of "flocks,"

"orthodox," "fox," and "crocks [old ewes]" in the first stanza of

"The Holy Tulzie," Burns identifies his metaphorical parallel and suggests his intent to mock the ministers and their arrogance. By r.he fourth stanza, other elements have c la rifie d Burns's tone and target, but the forced feminine rhyme of "expeckit," "negleckit," "respeckit," and "eleckit" underlines his flippant attitude toward the "serious" quarrel between ministers. Feminine rhymes in the f ir s t stanza of 183

"Death and Doctor Hornbook" serve a similar function; Burns is announc­ ing that the unfolding dialogue is to be viewed lightly. The words

"[holy] rapture" and "Scripture" have serious meanings, but the solemnity of the Bible and of divine ecstasies is undermined by the unstressed ending of the rhyme (11,4,6). Throughout the f ir s t half of the poem, feminine and unstressed rhymes dominate (as in 11.13-18,31-36,103-32); as Death speaks more scornfully about Hornbook's greed and incompetence, however, Burns lets masculine'rhymes emphasize the vigor underlying his accusations of intentional murder and his promises of vengeance

(11.145-68;169-80), "The Twa Dogs" also begins with a conversational quality that is established by the frequent unstressed double rhymes, such as "collar" and "Scholar," "riches" and "wretches," "disasters" and "masters," "negleket" and "disrespekt." Such rhymes do more than create a sense of a colloquial, relaxed chat; many of the rhyming words stress antithetical ideas, such as the point that "masters" create "disasters," Less clear is Burns's choice of feminine endings in Ceasar's savage indictments of the rich; keeping the passages from gaining too light and joyous a beat is his insertion of masculine rhymes that impose a harsher conclusion to some lines:

Haith lad, ye l i t t l e ken about it ; For Britain's guidl guid fa ith ! I doubt i t . Say rather, gaun as PREMIERS lead him, An' saying aye or n o 's they bid him: At Operas an' Plays parading, Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading: Or maybe, in a fro lic daft, To HAGUE or CALAIS take.' a waft, To make a tour an1 take a v/hilr'. To learn bon ton an' see the worl'. (11.149-58; see also 11.159-70,86-102) 184

Another effect derived from mixing masculine and feminine rhymes appears in other early poems, such as "Address to the D eil," "Author's

Cry and Prayer," "To a Louse," and "Libel Summons"; in each, Burns secures an appropriately flippant tone because of his rhyming patterns.

In "Address to the Deil" the feminine rhymes of the first stanza--

"suit thee," "Clootie," "sooty," "cootie," and "Hatches" and "wretches"

--suggest the persona's in a b ility to agree with the Kirk's depiction of the Devil. In "Author's Cry" Burns may only be illustrating some shortcomings in his rhyming vocabulary, but these r(hymes lend a f l i p ­ pant a ir appropriate to the content and to the mock-humble facade of the speaker: "present her," "behint her," "Vintner," and "Winter";

"see ‘ t," "greet," "feet," "hear it ," "heat," and "bear it" ; "tease him," "sees him," "gies him," and "lea'es him" (11.43-48,61-66,169-74).

Polysyllabic rhymes add vividness and emphasis to the louse:

Ye ugly, creepan, blastet wonner, Detested, shunn'd, by saunt an' sinner. . . . Swith, in some beggar's haffet squattle; There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle. . . . ("To'a Louse," 11.7-8, 11- 12)

The rhyme variation in the last stanza--"gie us," "see us," "free us," and "lea'e us"--is not necessarily a sign of Burns's incapacity but a means for him to stress the broader concept of the poem: Jenny is not alone in her pride and pretensions, for all of us in varying degrees share these attributes. The many double rhymes with unstressed endings in "Libel Summons," combined with the regular beat of iambic tetrame­ te r, give a jingling rhythm to the account; the tra ilin g -o ff effect of the endings, the lightness of movement, and the polysyllabic rhyming 185 sounds create a flippancy suitable to the poem's attack on those who reject the naturalness of copulation:

He who disowns the ruin'd Fair-one, And for her wants and woes does care none; The wretch that can refuse subsistence To those whom he has given existence; He who when at a lass's by-job, fornication Defrauds her w i' a frjg or dry-b_b; The coof that stands on clishmaclavers wordy discourses When women haflins offer favors. . . .(11.17-24)

Another noticeable feature of several of Burns's satires is

internal rhyme. Without exception the repeated sound--usually empha­ sized by the accentual pattern--yields a bouncy, jingly effect that denotes his mocking tone. His s a tiric songs contain a preponderance of internal rhymes. For example, alternating lines of each eight-line stanza in "When Guilford Good" emphasize the metrical accent with internal rhymes:

Then thro' the lakes Montgomery takes. . . . Down Lowrie'a burn he took a turn. . . . stream But yet, whatreck, he, at Quebec .... nevertheless Wi' sword in hand, before his band. . . .(11.9-17)

The bard's song in "Love and Liberty" combines iambic tetrameter with internal rhyme to underline his casual disregard for conventional poetry and society's rules of behavior:

I never drank the Muses' STANK pond Castalia's burn an' a' that, But there i t streams an1 richly reams, My HELICON I ca' that. (11.216-18)

The soldier's song in the same poem gains a slightly different effect, for the martial rhythm is stressed by the refrain "at the sound of a drum" as well as by the rhyme of three words within each two lines: 186

My Prenticeship 1 past where my LEADER breath'd his last, When the bloody die was cast on the heights of ABRAM; And I served out my TRADE when the gallant gome was play'd, And the MORO low was laid at the sound of the drum. (11.33-36)

In other s a tiric pieces than songs occasional use of internal rhyme helps Burns establish his tone and emphasize contrast. In "Halloween" internal rhymes appear infrequently, most notably in the first stanza, where they substitute for end rhyme and introduce Burns's lig h t tone.

In "The Holy Fair" the Internal rhymes f i t the cheeriness of the tavern scene and act as a counterpoint to the thundering imprecations voiced by the ministers:

While thick an' thrang, an’ loud an' lang, Wi1 L o g ie, an* wi' S c rip tu re , They raise a din, that, in the end, Is like to breed a rupture. . . .(11.158-61)

To insuinuate his mockery into his descriptions of the preachers' serious sermons, Burns adds a b it of internal rhyme:

His piercin words, lik e highlan swords, Divide the joints an' marrow; His talk o' H_11, whare devils dwell, Our vera ‘Sauls does harrow1. . . .(11.185-88)

Internal rhyme intensities the effect of the ambiguities in these concluding lines:

How mome hearts this day converts, O' Sinners an o' Lasses! Their hearts o' stane, gin night are gane As saft as ony flesh is. (11.235-38)

Burns uses masculine, feminine, and internal rhyme schemes in sim ilar ways among the later satires. For example, in "Act Sedurant of the Session" the feminine rhymes of "session," "transgression," and

"possession" reinforce the revelations of other poetic elements: 187

Burns is mockingly challenging the power and rightness of Kirk Session

rules against fornication. Similarly, in "Epistle to Logan" rhymes

stress his satiric attitude as well as create fluctuations in tone.

When he is being rather florid in advising and praising Logan, he

uses mostly masculine rhymes; but the more re a lis tic sections de­ scribing their carousing depend on feminine rhymes to give a suitable

gaiety: "Willie," "hilly," "billie," and "Fillie"; ‘'saunter," "canter,"

"mishanter," and "banter"; "FIDDLE," "diddle," "widdle," and "dridle"

(11.1-18; see also 11.43-84), Unlike "Epistle to Logan" in which the

unstressed double rhyme sound is repeated in four lines of each

Standard Habbie stanza, "Epistle to Graham" includes in each stanza an

unstressed feminine rhyme that is repeated only twice. Since Burns

in the latter is recording in mock-epic style a battle between Whigs and

Tories, the predominance of masculine rhymes gives a force suited to the description of war, while the unstressed double rhymes lighten the pace and remind us that his intent is to mock the politicians' efforts.

In "The Brigs of Ayr" and "Tam o' Shanter" feminine rhymes sig­ nal important shifts in tone. In the prologue and epilogue of "Brigs" the heroic couplets and occasional , combined with the flowery language, produce a slow pace and a s tilte d quality ill-s u ite d to a flytin g ; the meter is too slow to have much s a tiric b ite. But in the conversation its e lf Burns frequently adds feminine unstressed rhymes that give the exchange of insults some lightness and comedy:

Fit only for a doited Monkish race, dull Or frosty maids forsworn, the dear embrace, Or Cuifs of latter times, wha held the notion, fools That sullen gloom was sterling, true devotion: Fancies that our guid Brugh denies protection, And soon may they expire, unblest with resurrection!(11.144-49) 188

In "Tam o' Shanter"'Burns intermingles masculine and feminine rhymes 52 throughout the tale, but in three specific passages a s h ift in rhyme conveys ash ift from a serious tone to a mocking, comic tone. After the opening passages, dominated by masculine rhymes, he turns to femi­ nine rhymes for a lighter touch, as in

This truth fand honest Tam o ’ Shanter, As he frae Ayr ae night did canter, (Auld Ayr, wham ne'er a town surpasses, For honest men and bonny lasses.). (11.13-16)

He continues to use unstressed double rhymes in his fic tiv e account of

Kate scolding Tam. By this shift in his pattern, Burns is able to suggest early in the poem that we should take neither the story nor the speaker too seriously. That Burns means us to see the pomposity in the speaker's f ir s t major use of a grand style is conveyed by the rhymes as well as by the inappropriateness of the pretentious similes:

Care, made to see a man sae happy, E'en drown'd himsel amang the nappy: As bees flee hame w i' lades o' treasure, The minutes wing'd their way w i' pleasure: Kings may be blest, but Tam was glorious, O'er a' the ills o' life victorious! (11.53-58)

Daiches adds that these double rhymes "give the impression of a grand, carefree snap of the fingers, while the final rhyming of 'glorious' with 'victorious' sounds a slig h tly drunken organ note which swells 53 the climax of this account of Tam's state of mind." The s h ift in the rhyme after Tam has been seen by the witches implies a similar point.

When the speaker stops the action to voice descriptive similes and warnings to Tam, he rhymes "fyke" arid "byke," "foes" and "nose," "crowd" and "aloud," "follow" and "hollow," "fairin" and "herrin," "comin" and "woman." The s h ift from masculine to feminine endings contributes to

the gradual development in the lines of a quality of unsubstantiality,

feeding our comic sense and warning against serious concern.

Internal rhyme appears in a few la te r poems, where i t helps

produce a sing-song bounciness suitable to Burns's mocking, high-

spirited tone. The contributions of internal rhyme to rhythm and

emphasis are most apparent in "The Kirk of Scotland's Garland," wherein

it regularly appears in the first and third line of each quatrain,

such as "Simper James, Simper James, leave the fa ir K illie dames" and

"Your HEARTS are the s tu ff w ill be POWDER enough" (11.26,20). He

twice makes "sense" and "pretense" rhyme internally and usually is careful to let rhyme associate the name of the person with a characteris tic or occupation, such as "Cessnock-side" and "pride" (11.8,44,54).

The internal rhyme combines with meter, imagery, and invective to stress his satire of specific individuals. Internal rhyme in alternat­ ing lines of "Ode to Spring" helps f i t the words to the tune, which

Burns marked "liv e ly , with expression." Here too the buoyancy added by repeated sounds works with other techniques in order to convey

Burns's ridicule of the banality of conventional odes on spring.

Sim ilarly, in "When Princes and Prelates" the internal rhyme functions mainly to merge words and tune to a quick-moving jin g le . Although the rhyming words only twice stress a satiric point--"Prelates" and "zealots

"a " and "brass"--the sing-song effect suits Burn's general theme:

"Great Folk" are to be chastized for sending people to die in wars when it is better for all to "mowe." 190

Burns's decisions about types of rhyme and ways to vary rhyme schemes produce several results for his satires: he can create a buoyant, light movement that suits his mocking attitude, as in "Libel

Summons," "When Guilford Good," and "Epistle to Graham"; he can stress points of attack by associating ideas through rhyme, as in "The Holy

Tulzie," "To a Louse," and "The Kirk of Scotland's Garland"; he can modulate tone, letting shifts in rhyme signal his alterations between the serious and the ridiculous, as in "Love and Liberty," "Epistle to

Logan," and "Tam o' Shanter." His frequent reliance on unaccented endings, feminine rhymes, and repeated sounds that lead to a sing­ song rhythm reveals that he discards euphonious effects in favor of conversational inflections and light-hearted mocking. Both early and late poems illustrate similar utilization of rhymes to support his s a tiric themes. In la te r poems he does not introduce new techniques or seek new effects, nor does he make rhymes any more organically functional in the whole of the poem. In neither early nor later poems is special use of rhyme a major technique, and rhyme is never his sole method for conveying his satiric theme or attitude; but he employs the a rtific e s of rhyme often enough to illu s tra te some s k ill at making selections of rhyme combine with other elements in order to unfold his attack.

Since Burns u tilizes verse forms with regularized rhythmical and rhyming patterns—Standard Habbie, Christis Kirk, rhymed couplets, ballad quatrains—he always works within the limits defined by those forms. That circumscription, however, does not prevent variations in 191

the rhythmical pattern; in fact, the variations carry added emphasis.

Both early and later satires are characterized by three main features:

Burns's preference for dissonant rhythms in order to create conversational effects; his ability to slow or speed the pace by varying the strength of stresses; his ability to make verbal, rhetorical, and metrical accents coincide. Using the colloquial flow of natural speaking rhythms and syntax allows him leeway in creating ironic tone and per­ sonae; gradations of stress le t him use emphasis to guide us to his viewpoint.

In several early poems, such as "Poor M ailie's Elegy," "The

Twa Dogs," "Death and Doctor Hornbook," "To a Louse," "Address to the

D eil," "The Ordination," and "Love and Liberty," Burns makes the rhythmical patterns, degrees of stress, and pace convey tone and pin­ point places of emphasis. The rhythmical pattern of "Poor M ailie's

Elegy," for example, is the initial signal that this is no usual elegy.

The tempo, almost a sing-song, indicates this elegy should not be under­ stood as a serious mourning of Mai lie :

Lament in rhyme, lament in prose, Wi' saut tears trickling down your nose; Our B a rd ie 's fate is at a close, Past a' remead! The last, sad cape-stane of his woes; Poor M ailie's dead! (11.1-6)

Here, as in so many of Burns's satires in Standard Habbie, the verse's two short lines, its use of just two different rhymes, and its regular iambic feet can be effectively linked with flippant, nonserious tones, a light and jingling movement, and deft twists of thought. Initial s tric t adherence to the stress pattern in other forms, such as the 192 octosyllabic couplets of "The Twa Dogs," alerts us to the mocking quality of what will follow: '"Twas in that place o' Scotland's is le ,/

That bears the name o' auld king COIL" (11.1-2). Variations in the iambic tetrameter of the second couplet combined with strong a llite r a ­ tion in the first line create different emphases and tempos for these

1i nes:

They lo ite r, lounging, lank an' lazy; Tho' deil-haet a ils them, yet uneasy; nothing Their days, insipid, dull an' tasteless, Their nights, unquiet, lang an' restless. (11.207-10)

The beat is slower, emphasizing the emptiness of the lives of the rich. The iarrtnc tetrameter of "Death and Doctor Hornbook," aided by the double rhymes and unstressed endings, creates the rhythm of a staggering persona as well as a vivid picture of the situation:

The Clachan y i l l has made me canty, I was na fou, but just had plenty; I stacher'd whyles, but yet took tent ay To free the ditches; An' hillocks, stanes, an' bushes kenn'd ay Frae ghaists an' witches. (11.13-18)

One c r itic praises the exactness with which the accents accord with the tottering steps described in the third line of the passage and the way in which the run of words in the fifth line moves quickly 54 until abruptly halted by "kenn'd ay." In "To a Louse" the iambic stresses accord with the spoken accents of the adjectives and verbs:

"Ye ugly, creepan, blastet wonner,/Detested, shunn'd, by saunt an' sinner" (11.7-8). Each descriptive word receives an equally heavy stress, slowing the pace of the line and adding to the poem's v ita lity .

In other lines the same, steady iambic tempo occurs, but sometimes 193

Burns modifies the pattern, weakening the stress of some words so

that, in contrast, more important ideas receive stronger emphasis:

"There ye may creep, and sprawl, and sprattle" (1.14). When he concludes

with the general advice to "us" the stresses are more even; a conver­

sational effect occurs because he follows the syntax of natural speech,

and the tempo slows so that the total concept is clear. S im ilarly, in

"Address to the Deil" the generally quick-moving iambs are occasionally

slowed, while Burns jams together stressed words; the result is a

harsher, more prosy rhythm:

Thence, rrystic knots mak great abuse, On Young-Guidmen, fond, keen an' croose; merry When the bestwcwklwn i ' the house, tool By cantraip wit, magic Is instant made no worth a louse, Just at the bit. (11.61-66)

In "The Ordination" the heavy accents fa ll most often on verbs, extra

unstressed syllables intrude into the iambic pattern, and an occasional

appears; the variations occur because Burns again prefers con­

versational roughness to smooth-flowing monotony:

Mak haste an1 turn king David owre, An' l i l t w i' holy clangor; O' double verse come gie us four, An' skirl up the Bangor: y e ll; psalm tune This day the Kirk kicks up a stoure, storm Nae mair the knaves shall wrang her For Heresy is in her pow'r, And gloriously s h 'll whang her beat Wi' pith this day. (11.19-27)

The exuberant rhythm of this ironic poem calls attention to the con­

tras t between the merrymaking and the bigoted Auld Lichts' excessive rig id ity : the la tte r is Burns's principal s a tiric target. Although the iambic is the most common rhythmic pattern in

Burns's satires, he illu strates his awareness of the effects to be gained from other feet. In "Love and Liberty" many of the songs and recitativos use iambic meter; but ju st as he s k illfu lly varies charac­ ters, verse forms, and tunes in the cantata, so too he achieves diver­ sity in metrical schemes. The bard's song, for instance, uses iambic tetrameter, but the stresses are so heavy and unvaried that the song quickly gains a jingling movement. In contrast, the tinkler's song, also iambic tetrameter, secures a different effect because the staccato beat of its tune overrides many of the verbal stresses. The soldier's doxy sings in anapests, words and notes of the song coinciding in stress; the lightness and speed of the anapests call attention to her cheerfulness and underline her professions of gaiety despite her poverty and ostracism. in the last song, which a ll the beggars per­ form, make each line end on an unstressed syllable, giving a fin a l, finished touch to this concluding song. The weighted stresses are placed regularly on the words that express what the group accepts and rejects; the heavy stresses not only give the ideas more vigor,, energy, and meaning than weak stresses could, but they also suggest the sound of tankards beating time on the tables:

Here's to BUDGETS, BAGS and WALLETS! Here's to all the wandering train! Here's our ragged BRATS and CALLETS! One and a ll cry out, AMEN! A fig for those by LAW protected, LIBERTY'S a glorious feast! COURTS for Cowards were erected, CHURCHES built to please the Priest. (11.274-81) 195

The la te r poems also illu s tra te Burns's diversity in rhythmical

patterns. Heavily stressed iambs, as in "Extempore, Court of Sessions,"

create a vigorous and swift movement that coincides with the tempo of

the tune to which the words are set. Moreover, the metrical accents

underline sarcastic points:

He gaped for *t, he graped for 't , He fand i t was awa, man. . . . The BENCH sae wise l i f t up their eyes, Half-wauken‘d w i1 the din, man. (11.5-6,15-16)

The tendency of heavy stresses to slow the lin e , thus focusing attention

to the meaning of the words accented, is especially effective in "Tam

o' Shanter": "A blethering, blustering, drunken blellum" and "His

ancient, trusty, drouthy crony" (11.20,42). The speaker's description

of the witches' dance is particularly vivid because of the pronounced contrast between heavy stresses and weak nonstresses and because Burns

produces a speed in the regular rhythm of the iambs:

The piper loud and louder blew; The dancers quick and quicker flew; They re e l'd , they set, they cross'd, they c leekit, Till ilka carlin swat and reekit, And coost her duddies to the wark, And linket at it in her sark! (11.145-50)

In "Ode to Spring" Burns merges accents and words so that the metrical accent always fa lls on vulgar words; thus he focuses on obscenity as a way to ridicule conventional lyrics. The persona of "Esopus to Maria"

uses iambic tetrameter and pentameter, but Burns's speaker is not able to maintain regularity. It seems that Esopus does not intentionally seek the conversational roughness, for he uses flowery language and

professes his desire to write smoothly flowing lines. Rather, i t would 196

seem that in such irregular lines Esopus is in one more way revealing

his incompetence.

Other feet than iambic appear also in the later satires. The

tune for the "Second Heron Ballad" has a staccato, even beat joined to

a mixture of iambs and anapests; the combination of musical and metri­

cal emphases creates a monotonously regular beat, suitable for this

poem's monotonous l i s t of people and characteristics:

And there w ill be trusty KIROCHTREE, Whase honour was ever his law; I f the VIRTUES were packt in a parcel His WORTH might be sample for a '. (11.61-64)

Anapests, with an at the beginning of each lin e , supply "When

Princes and Prelates" and "Monody on Maria" with sing-song rhythms and strong accents that emphasize the individuals and characteristics that

Burns attacks. The beat in "Monody on Maria" is ironically inappro­ priate to a monody, but the quick tempo with heavy stresses works well in expressing Burns's contempt for the woman. The anapests of "Sketch to Fox" also seem unsuitable, for they make the lines move lightly and cheerfully; this foot is just one more element creating confusion about Burns's intent. The semantic content indicates that Burns could not decide whether to s a tirize (in which case an anapestic jin g le would be compatible) or sincerely praise Fox. "The Kirk of Scotland's Garland" best exemplifies Burns's a b ility to gain exuberance and dynanism from a combination of dactyls, anapests, and trochees; although some of the lines divorce verbal and metrical accents and have a dissonant quality, the poem has the pulsation and flow of a child's chant: 197

Calvin's Sons, Calvin's Sons, seize your spiritual guns-- Ammunition ye never can need; Your HEARTS are the s tu ff w ill be POWDER enough, And your SCULLS are a storehouse o' LEAD. . . .(11.18-21) 55 The metrical pattern, common to squibs and drinking songs, is iro n i­ cally incompatible with the persona's profession of concern for the

Auld Lichts; but i t is perfect for Burns's ridicule of the Orthodox.

The hardy stresses and rapid rhythms f i t the raucous tone and sw ift pace of some poems--the bard's and group's songs in "Love and

Liberty," "Ode to Spring," "The Ordination"; apparently inappropriate to the content of such pieces as "Poor M ailie's Elegy," "Monody on

Maria," and "The Kirk of Scotland's Garland," they intimate that

Burns speaks ironically because the metrical form qualifies rather than reinforces the surface meaning. He adapts metrical accent to musical accent, as in "Extempore, Court of Sessions," or lets them contradict each other so that he can convey irony, as in "When Princes and Prelates." Heavy stresses can slow a line for emphasis, as occurs in "Address to the Deil" or help speed a group of lines into a myriad dance, as in "Tam o' Shanter." I t is probable that Burns sought instinctively the effects of diversity in rhythms and gradations of stress, that he learned about metrical sound patterns not in books but through 1 istening--for the prosy, dissonant, conversational qualities of natural speech underlie his achievements with rhythm. Because of the reciprocation between tone and sound-movement of words, rhythmical schemes play a larger role in Burns's arsenal of s a tiric techniques than does rhyme. 198

Metrical strategies and rhyming devices do often underline the s a tiric thrust in several of Burns's poems. Even more prevalent, how­ ever, is Burns's reliance on, a llite ra tiv e devices to focus attention on similar or contrasting ideas, to modulate pace, to help create auditory images. As Wittig notes, the Scots vernacular contains

"latent vituperative potentialities" because of its abundance of con- 56 sonants and "consequent easy a l1 ite ra tio n ." Many of the a llite ra tiv e phrases that Burns uses have no bearing on his s a tiric themes; some, such as "glunch an' gloom," "sink or swoom," "Stem an' stern," and

"rant an' rave," repeat vernacular expressions without special a llite r a ­ tive significance. Several poems in both the early and la te r group, however, illu s tra te the ways in which Burns joins a llite ra tiv e empha­ ses with satiric statements.

Among the early poems, "Epistle to Rankin," "Love and Liberty,"

"The Mauchline Wedding," "The Holy Tulzie," and "Death and Doctor

Hornbook" demonstrate the extent of Burns's fondness for repeated sibilants. After the slow-paced and sonorant f ir s t line of "Epistle to Rankin" characterizes the recipient, the next lines initiate a series of sibilants that emphasize the poet's mockingly sarcastic con­ cern for the Kirk elders: "0 rough, rude, ready-witted R * * * * * * * ,. . .

[the Kirk thinks] Your dreams an' tricks/Will send you, Korahlike, a sinkin,/Straught to auld Nick's" (11.1-6). The subsequent stanza continues Burns's hissing mockery c f disapproving Auld Lichts: Ye hae sae monie cracks an' cants, And in your wicked, druken rants, Ye mak a devil o' the Saunts, « An' f i l l them fou; Arid then th e ir fa ilin g s , flaws an' wants, Are a' seen thro'. (11.7-12)

In "Love and Liberty" the doxy's repugnance for the hypocrisy of "my sanctified sot" is expressed by her diction; but the a llite ra tio n stresses the scorn in her epithet (1.69). Sibilance in the first, fifth , and sixth recitativos and in Merry Andrew's song also exempli­ fies how the repeated "s" sound underlines the semantic content; words and sound work together to secure a more intense accent on the beggars' scorn for conventionality. Alliteration of the sibilant sound empha­ sizes some of the most abusive indictments in "The Holy Tulzie," such as in the persona's depiction of one minister: "And liked wee! to shed their [opponents'] blood,/And sell their skin" (11.35-36).

The hisses of "But now the gown w i' rustling sppnd,/Its silken pomp displays;/Sure there's no sin in being vain/0' siccan bony claes!" function onomatopoetically to create the appropriate auditory image 57 in "The Mauchline Wedding" (11.26-29). This auditory suggestion of clothing rustling is more than just an ornamental addition, for Burns's means for attacking the women's inflated pride is to focus scrutiny on their clothing. The "s's" and dentals of the mostly monosyllabic fir s t stanza of "Death and Doctor Hornbook" focus our attention on the speaker's ironic view of Death and emphasize the tone: Burns w ill make a fictive conversation with Death be the vehicle for an attack of the Kirk's rigid views of death. That reliance on alliteration to stress ideas permeates the rest of the poem, as in Death's scathingly iiuO sarcastic description of Hornbook's medicines:

"Calces o' fossils, earths, and trees; "True Sal-marinum o' the sees; "The Farina of beans and pease, "He has 't in plenty. . . ."(11.121-24; also 11.115-20)

As in "Hornbook" Burns effectively combines a llite ra tiv e patterns to secure more intense unity between logically related ideas and emotions in "The Twa Dogs." When Ceasar describes the rich women's mindless a c tiv itie s , the repeated "g" sound emphasizes the sarcasm behind the apparently complimentary "great an' gracious"; other alliterated plosives, in "ladies," "clusters," "sister," "absent,"

"thoughts," "run-deils," "jads," and "scandal potion pretty," add to the abusive quality of Ceasar's charges (11.219-24). Burns stresses his intense disgust for the hypocritical and intolerant Auld Lichts when he writes "To the Rev. M'Math":

But I gae mad at th e ir grimaces, Their sighan, cantan, grace-prood faces, Their three-mile prayers, an' hauf-mile graces, Their raxan conscience, elastic Whase greed, revenge, an' pride disgraces Waur nor their nonsense. (11.19-24; also 11.55-66)

The hissing "s's," the nasal "an's," and the percussive "d," "g,"

"t," and "p" emphasize the key concepts in his charges. Sim ilarly, the hisses in Beelzebub's voice join with his insults that are also defined by the harsh "g" and "k" sounds in these lines:

Let WARK an' HUNGER mak them sober! The HIZZIES, if they're oughtlins fausont, respectable Let them in DRURY LANE be lesson'd! An' i f the wives, an' dirty brats, Come thiggan at your doors an' yets. . . . begging; gates Get out a HORSE-WHIP, or a JOWLER, The langest thong, the fiercest growler, An' gar the ta tte r'd gipseys pack Wi' a' their bastarts on their back! (11.42-52) By emphasizing Beelzebub's harsh response to the Highlanders, Burns can

in contrast underline the disequilibrium betweenthe attitude of the

persona and his own. The liquid "r" and "1," thesonorant nasals,

and the breathless "h" in "Address to the Deil" create a different


Great is thy pow'r, an1 great thy fame; Far ken'd, an' noted is thy name; An' tho' yon Iowan heugh's thy hame, Thou travels far; An1 faith! thou's neither lag nor lame laggard' Nor blate nor scaur. (11.13-18) bashful; scared

By giving the lines vibrancy and a slowed tempo, the repeated sounds

support the attitude Burns has already established: he makes the

persona voice his own friendly, uncritical view of the Devil as a

means to state his repudiation of traditional Kirk dogma.

"Holy W illie's Prayer" and "The Holy Fair" most clearly illu s ­

trate how Burns patterns tonal qualities within and between individual stanzas so as to reinforce the s a tiric point conveyed by other elements in the poem. Thomas Crawford has discussed much of Burns's

sound poetry in "Holy Willie's Prayer," pointing out, for example, that

the sound of the verse reflects the opposing sides of W illie 's nature.

He notes that Burns selects "nasal consonants to convey sonority, and plosives and velar to reflect either strength, conflict, or both

together," as in

Yet I am here, a chosen sample, To shew thy grace is great and ample: I ’m here, a p illa r o' thy temple Strong as a rock, A guide, a ruler and example To a' thy flo c k .--(11.25-30) 202

In that stanza, the double rhymes, the allite ra te d "grace" and "great," and "the interlocking voiced and voiceless velars 'guide' . . . and 58 'flock'" produce unity and intensity. The stately rhythm of the fifth stanza suggests W illie's assumed philosophical grandeur; i t contrasts significantly with the next four stanzas' admission and attempted ju s tific a tio n of his sins. In one of those stanzas the sibilants, the voiceless fric a tiv e "f," the sonorant "1," and the plosive "t" emphasize his hesitation to speak of his flaws and his blustering 59 attempts to excuse them:

But y e t--0 L d—confess I m ust— At times I'm fa s h ’ d w i1 fleshly lust; And sometimes too, in worldly trust V ile S e lf gets in; But thou remembers we ared u s t, D e f i l ’d w i' s in . —(11.37-42; italics added)

Throughout "Holy W illie 's Prayer" the a llite ra tio n in single lines and especially the longer interlocked patterns of repeated sounds reinforce the thrust of the poem's imagery and juxtapositions of language. In

"The Holy Fair" Burns calls upon not only double rhymes, internal rhymes, and the juxtaposition of monosyllabic and polysyllabic lines, but adds a llite ra tiv e patterns to secure emphasis and modulations in tone. The harsh plosives and short vowels, for instance, create an auditory image of the noisy drinking tent and its cheerful patrons:

Now, butt an' ben, the Change-house f i l l s , Wi' y ill- o a u p Commentators: wooden bowls of ale Here's crying out for bakes an' g ills , biscuits An' there, the pint-stowp clatters. . . .(11.154-62)

In contrast, a llite ra tiv e "t," "s," "r," and "1" suggest the texture of the m inister's thunderous preaching: But now the L 's aln trumpet touts, T ill a* the h ills are rairan, An' echos back return the shouts, Black * * * * * * is na spairan. . . .(11.181-89) Russell

When Burns restates the Auld Licht view of hell, he lets polysyllabic

words,repeated "t," "s," "d," and a sequence of sounds requiring

careful pronounciation slow down the pace and suggest the auditory

image of the minister forcefully shouting his threats:

A vast, unbottom'd, boundless P it , F ill'd fou o' Iowan bvunstane > Whase raging flame, an' scorching heat, Wad melt the hardest whunstane, . „ .(11.190-98)

Within stanzas Burns effectively balances opposing sound effects in

order to stress the antithetical ideas. The dominant pattern in the

poem is a contrast between "sibilants, voiceless /, and close vowels

. . . [th a t] convey hatred, meanness or contempt" and "nasals, voiced

I, and open vowels . . . [th a t] emphasize both the sonority of fin Scottish preaching and Burns's affirmation of lif e ." The f ir s t two

lines of the poem illu s tra te these opposing patterns, as i f Burns is

stating the theme he w ill develop: "Upon a simmerSunday morn,/When

Nature's face is fair" (11 1-2). In the concluding lines, again the

nasals and open vowels of "An' monie jobs that day begin,/May end in

Houghmagandie" contrast with the sibilance and closed vowels of

"Some ither day."^1 Burns affirms the naturalness of fornication, a major theme in his attack of the K irk’s restrictions, while deploring

the need to delay natural appetites until "another day" when the

preachers are not intruding between desire and action. As*other critics

have noted, "The Holy Fair" and "Holy W illie 's Prayer" remain two of 204

Burns's finest achievements because the poet has s k illfu lly joined many poetic elements--including alliterative effects—into organic wholes.

The same kinds of a llite ra tio n appear in Burns's la te r satires which illu s tra te sim ilar diverse effects. Burns places emphases on words important to his s a tiric point. The sonorant "r," for instance, underlines the mocking words with which Burns describes his target in

"The Calf": "To hear you roar and rowte [bellow]" (1.18). Sim ilarly in "Extempore, Court of Sessions" the dentals in "He clench'd his pamphlets in his fis t" and "He gap'd for 't , he graped for 't"

(11.1,6) reinforce the metrical accents on these verbs that pinpoint the lawyer's weaknesses as an orator. The harsh "c" of "The cave-lodged beggar, with a conscience clear/ . . . goes to Heaven" (11.30-31) concludes "Ode to Mrs. Oswald"; the a llite ra tio n draws together into one sarcastic thrust the gist of the poem: a savage indictment of this wealthy woman's hellish s p irit. Harsh "g" also adds emphasis to the speaker's scorn for the double standard imposed by conventional morality: "Our dame can lae her ain gudeman,/An' m_w for glutton greed" ("Wha'll M_w Me Now," 11.18-19). "The Kirk of Scotland's

Garland" has a musical movement, emphasized not only by the rhymes and boisterous metrical flow but also by the alliterative patterns that build up cumulative rhytrims. The "s" in "O'er Pegasus' side ye ne'er laid a stride,/Ye only stood by where he sh " spits forth Burns's scorn for the talents of "Poet Willie" (11.36-37). "Calvin's Sons,

Calvin's Sons, seize your spiritual guns" is so fille d with hisses 205 that i t would be d iffic u lt to mistake this warning as the poet's serious profession of concern (1.18). Sibilants, the plosive "p," and dentals add emphasis to the mockery in his description of William


Holy Will, Holy Will, there was wit i' your skull, When ye p ilfe r'd the alms o' the poor; The timmer is scant, when ye're ta'en for a saint, Wha should swing in a rape for an hour. . . .(11.66-69)

In the later satires, as in the early group, Burns continues to illu s ­ trate one of the primary functions of alliteration: by creating an echoing sound through repetition, he confirms the attack expressed by the words.

Burns also uses a llite ra tio n sometimes when he wishes to modu­ late his tempo, accentuate alterations in tone, and link seemingly antithetical ideas. He heightens the contrast in the diction when he adds alliterative dentals, "s," "1," and "g" to the inflated poly­ syllabic language in this stanza of "Tam Samson's Elegy":

Now safe the stately Sawmont sail, And Trouts bedropp'd w i' crimson h a il, And Eels weel kend for souple t a il, And Geds for greed, pikes Since dark in Death's fis h -o v e e l we wail Tam Samson dead! (11.31-36)

Not only does he slow the tempo to contrast with the appropriately faster pace of the preceding stanzas' description of curling, but he assures that we do not too quickly pass that grotesquely extravagant image of Tarn in 'Death's fish creel." Alliteration thus combines with other techniques to present Burns's mockery of conventional elegies. Burns patterns sibilance and the harsh "c" in " I'll Tell You a Tale of a Wife"; since he places most of the sibilance in the woman’s speeches yet shows no desire to s a tirize her, i t does not seem probable that he wants the "s" sound to suggest his antipathy toward her. Rather, he accumulates the hissing sounds into a series that he abruptly interrupts at the end of each line, as in "Sae sair as the sins o' my ____" (1 .8 ). The harsh "c" of the understood "cunt" thus contrasts violently with the preceding sounds and receives a sharper emphasis. Burns uses two sounds in a comparable manner in portions of "Epistle to Graham": " I ' l l sing the zeal Drumlanrig bears,/Wha le f t the all-im portant cares/Of fiddles, wh_res and hunters"

(11.7-9). The droning "s" begins to lu ll us into accepting the a b ility of the Duke, when the abrupt movement to fricatives and breathless

"h" coincides with a significant change in content. In these poems, then, Burns does not idly change a llite ra tiv e patterns but makes the shifts guide us to a major thrust of his attack.

"Tam o' Shanter" illu strates Burns's continuing a b ility to make a llite ra tio n create emphases and pace, as well as to expose the per­ sonals divided mind. For example, sibilance underlines a vibrant auditory image of Tam's angry wife: "our sulky sullen dame,/ [is ]

Gathering her brows like gathering storm,/Nursing her wrath to keep it warm" (11.10-12). The plosive "b" and dentals of "A blethering, blustering, drunken blell urn" help create a memorably vivid picture as well as stress the conflict between Tam and his wife (1.20). In both portraits the sounds suggest a visual picture and work in the manner of caricature to exaggerate the tra its of the characters. In The wind blew as 'twad blawn its last; The ra ttlin g showers rose on the blast; The speedy gleams the darkness swallow'd; Loud, deep, and lang, the thunder bellow'd. . . .(11.73-76)

the repeated consonants lend such a sing-song effect that the lines would be poorly suited to a serious description of obstacles faced by

the hero; but they remind us, not long after the flowery similes

about pleasure (11.59-66), that the persona has not found a consis­

tent and suitable style for his subject and that Burns's tone is con­

sistently comic. The description of the witches' dance (11.145-50)

secures a sense of motion because of the contrast between heavy

stresses and weak nonstresses and the use of action verbs but also because of the a llite ra tio n . Crawford notes that "crossed a llite ra tio n and internal vowel rhymes" in "They re e l'd , they set, they cross'd,

they cleekit,/Till ilka carlin swat and reekit" (11.147-48) "vividly

Fi9 suggest the figures of a Scottish country dance." The breathless

"h" and sonorant "1" and "r'1 of "thou'll get thy fa ir in !/In hell they'V thee like a herrin" (11.201-02) force the tempo of the lines to

slow (as do the in itia l "Ah, Tam\ Ah, Taml"). Thus the per­ sona interrupts the climactic chase to scold the recalcitrant Tam; he reveals a certain incompetence as a s to ry -te lle r, for he does not

intrude in order to heighten suspense but just to attend to his pose as a moralistic judge. The alliteration makes more striking the

antithesis between the exciting events and the attempts of the speaker

to remain emotionally uninvolved. In subsequent lines (11.211-14), however, the persona excitedly urg'ps Tam to speed. This passage 208 focuses our attention on the persona's vacillating attitude. "Tam o'

Shanter" generally exhibits a skillful blending of alliterative effects with other auditory techniques, the dramatic monologue form, the juxtapositions in diction, and the imagery, the tone poetry is woven into the poem not for its own sake but to support divergent ideas and emotions and to produce a satisfying unity between semantic con­ tent and the interplay of consonants and vowels.

The breadth and intensity of his dependence on a llite ra tio n are much the same in the early and later poems. In the larger group

Burns does not break new ground in usage or show any significant growth in his ability to mesh repeated sounds with other poetic elements. He lets a llite ra tio n aid in exposing personae, such as

Holy W illie and the speaker in "Tam o' Shanter"; emphasize key points of his attack, as in "Epistle to Graham," "To M'Math," and "Mauchline

Wedding"; and suggest an exaggerated visual picture that informs us of his comic tone, as in "Tam Samson's Elegy," "The Holy Fair," and

"Tam o' Shanter." The alliteration that seems so natural to Burns and to the Scots idiom thus serves as more than just decoration: i t functions in unity with other s a tiric elements to communicate Burns's attacks more intensely and clearly.


In order to create and develop satire in both early and later poems, Burns uses metaphorical imagery--a convenient label defined here to include both analogy and figures of speech. Because of the nature of Burns's use of tropes, analogies, and images, in this section

metaphorical imagery w ill be considered as those sense-perceptible

things amplified by his comparisons between dissimilar objects.

Since the focus fa lls on s a tiric ends achieved through metaphor,

neither grammatical, theoretical, nor comprehensive approaches are

warranted. The aim is to determine the kinds of he employs

as well as to understand when, how, and why he uses them; the focus

falls always on the contributions of metaphorical imagery to his


Burns's use of figurative language shows certain characteris-

tics. Usually he makes the relationship between tenor and vehicle

tight and specific, and he depends on our normal human experiences

and common sense to guide us to a single conclusion; less frequently

he leaves the metaphor ambiguous. The bulk of the s a tiric imagery

is expressed in b rief phrases and lines. Occasionally, he presents

a series of related images that establish a motif and develop the

satiric idea of the poem; even when there is a discontinuity of images,

he sometimes makes them contribute to a single tone or single effect.

Sources of his vehicles include traditional associations and readily observable "facts" from the natural and physical worlds, from commer­ cial a c tiv itie s , and from common experiences. These sources f i t into

four major categories: the domain of nature, the animal kingdom,

"human a c tiv itie s ,"’ and learning and written knowledge. The subject matter, the degree of extended development, the triteness or ingenuity,

and the amount of explicitness or subtlety in his satiric comparisons 210 do not vary significantly between early and later poems; that is, the la te r poems do not illu s tra te an increased s k ill in manipulation of s a tiric imagery. Although his s a tiric metaphors are sometimes inorganic and decorative, sometimes functional and organic, there is no evidence that the early pieces manifest more of the former features and the others more of the la tte r; he is not demonstrating increased a b ility at organically merging metaphorical images with his satire.

The f ir s t major source of Burns's s a tiric figures of speech is the world of nature--physical properties, life , and natural phenomena. In both early and la te r s a tiric poems he draws mostly on commonplace things, usually making a metaphor a b rief passage in the whole poem and rarely its controlling image. The la te r poems contain more fru itio n images, but they illu s tra te no fundamental changes in quality of imagery or the ends to which the metaphors are put.

Some of Burns's metaphors are clearly demeaning, as a conventional comparison illu strates: "Be to the Poor like onie whunstane [hard, dark rock]" ("Dedication to Hamilton," 1.57). Although Burns id en ti­ fies his attitude when he says that Excise men seize and destroy

Scots' liquor stills "like a muscle [mussel]/0r laimpet shell" and that a smuggler w ill pick "her pouch as bare as Winter," the kines­ thetic images are so general that they make l i t t l e impact ("Author's.

Cry and Prayer," 11.40-42, 44-48). Luath's realization that sometimes the poor "are riven out baith root an' branch" contributes a lucid though t r it e image of the oppression fomented by the affluent; the metaphor, however, contributes l i t t l e that is not elsewhere more emphatically asserted ("The Twa Dogs," 1.143). Also commonplace and generalized is Burns's metaphor in "Address to the Unco Guid":

Wi' wind and tide fair 1' your tail, Right on ye scud your -way; But, in the teeth o' baith to s a il, I t maks an unco leeway. (11.29-32)

The image's suggestion that humans are subject to forces beyond their control merges effectively with this poem's pleas for compassionate tolerance of sinners. By conveying insight about both groups--the

"unco guid" and the "blackguards"—and by being so generalized that each reader must decide what "wind" and "tide" he battles, the image is effective both in fittin g Burns's overall theme and in demand­ ing that we consider which group we belong to and how we treat others.

Beelzebub's description of the Highlanders as "poor, dunghill sons of d ir t an' mire" expresses this persona's contempt ("Address of Beelzebub,

1.19). But here the image is more complicated. Because of traditional conceptions of Beelzebub and because of the context in which the comparison is voiced, we cannot accept the v a lid ity of this scornful comparison; we must view it instead as expression of Beelzebub's evil.

The devil is the spokesman for the poet's satiric target rather than for his attack.

There are other such images in which the comparison cannot be comprehended simply at face value, with tenor, vehicle, and linkage immediately clear. When the persona of "Author's Cry and Prayer" describes himself as "trode i' the mire out o' sight," he is apparently subjugating himself (1.56). The point of the depends on its not working; the speaker pretends to be no more significant than a 212 worm or blade of grass even while he simultaneously calls attention to himself by his aggressive speech. He demeans himself in order to delude the Parliament members into thinking he will not attack them.

Sim ilarly, when Holy W illie says "we are dust," he sounds piously humble and meek (1.41). But e a rlie r lines of "Holy W illie 's Prayer" have clearly specified that Willie is anything but humble. Burns's satiric point in that deceptively simple metaphor depends on the mean­ ing of the poem as a whole and on the figure's appearance in co n te xt- just after W illie has confessed to drunken lust and ju st before he argues that God made man imperfect. W illie does not believe he is dust but is parroting dogma in order to shift responsibility to God for what are his own choices. When Willie refers to his lust and drinking as "this fleshly thorn," we miisconstrue Burns's attack if we think this Kirk elder honestly feels the physical and spiritu al pain that Paul describes (1.55; II Cor.VII.7-10). He is not accepting a thorn in his flesh as God's reminder of Satan's temptation nor viewing fleshly desires as a thorn; he is seeking to fla tte r God.

Both images blend organically with the total meaning of the poem, for they reveal Willie's attempt to eliminate from himself the burden of decisions and the responsibility for wrong choices. Moreover,

Burns has not insisted upon his own response nor ours but dramatized

W illie 's response; discerning the irony depends on our grasping the conflict in images that Willie does not see.

In other poems, such as "Love and Liberty" and "A Dream," the metaphor is immediately clear, but fu ll realization of Burns's point 213 depends on that metaphor being considered in context. At the beginning of "Love and Liberty" he is describing the outdoors scene to which the

indoor festivities will contrast; he personifies hailstones, that

"drive wi' bitter skyte [sudden blow]" and "infant Frost," that "bite[s]"

(11.4-5). At the end of the poem we realize that Burns has implied that society, not just the weather, has "driven" and "bitten" the outcasts;

the tumult imagery suggests the disorder of that society. The matter

is handled subtly, though at f ir s t glance the personifications of

natural phenomena seem commonplace; fu ll comprehension of the symbolic force depends on consideration of the total poem. Misleading also in

its f ir s t appearance is the water imagery in "A Dream." Such imagery is suitable to a poem supposedly set on the banks of the Thames and addressed to the Prince of Wales, not long before commissioned in the Navy. Thus, it is neither surprising nor apparently satiric when the persona says to the Prince: "Down Pleasure's stream, wi' swelling sails,/I'm tauld ye're driving rarely [finely]" (11.84-85).

This t r ite metaphor is simultaneously complimentary and derogatory; the Prince is directing his lif e but preferring friv o lity to serious matters of state. In subsequent lines, Burns is more outspoken:

Young, royal TARRY-BREEKS, I learn, Ye've la te ly come athwart her; A glorious G a lle y, stem and stern, Weel rigg'd for Venus b a r te r; But first hang out that she'll discern Your hymeneal Charter, Then heave abroad your grapple aim , An', large upon her q u a rte r, Come full that day. (11.109-17)

The nautical terms, the references to classical myth, and the ambiguity 214

of "her" (common reference to a ship but also stated in Burns's foot­

note as a reference to the Prince's latest lover) become sexual meta­

phors that slyly mock the Prince's preference for love affairs rather

than governmental a ffa irs .

When he uses nature metaphors in his la te r satires, Burns

u tilize s them in a larger number of poems and does make two of them

extensive enough to be considered controlling metaphors. The same

pattern of usage appears: in some Burns specifies exactly what he

satirizes—he uses physical images to represent the moral condition

of a man's family that is "an auld ovab-apple,/Rotten at the core"

("Buy Braw Troggin," 11.31-32); in some, he leaves his point

ambiguously general—the female persona iro n ically notes that the

"sweet tree" of love bears "sic bitter fruit" but we must decide whether to interpret "fru it" as the child she is carrying or the

"scornfu' sneer" she receives from society ("Wha'll M_w Me Now,"

11.21-22). He still draws the vehicles from readily observable "facts" of the natural world and from traditional associations.

Some of the metaphors inserted into various pieces add to the overall satiric tone although they do not create an imagistic motif.

Esopus thinks he praises Maria when he says her undaunted chatter

"dares the public lik e a noontide sun" ("Esopus to Maria," 1.44).

That the metaphor does not make much sense reflects Esopus' distorted understanding of Maria and of the simple properties of nature. The

image does, however, accord with other examples of this persona's utterances, unrelated references, and incoherent attitudes. The Lord 215

Advocate in "Extempore, Court of Sessions" loses his argument in a

"declamation-mist" (11,3-4). Burns explains his metaphor by the word

"declamation"; "mist" suggests the reasons the advocate lost the threads of his case. The other lawyer's answer is compared to "the gathering storm," for this advocate speaks "like wind-driv'n hail" or

"torrents owre a lin [waterfall]," emphasizing the disorderliness of his speech as well as its loudness, rapidity, and force (11.12-13).

With this imagery Burns imposes his subjective conceptions on what he sees and hears. "Flame" is the trite vehicle that describes sexual passion in " I ' l l Tell You a Tale": "Devotion blew up in a flame"

(1.37). Later the narrator hopes that any who are affronted by this poem's incidents "Still ride in Love's channel at large,/And never make port in a ____!!!" (11.43-44). The metaphors of fir e and sea do not logically reconcile; each is just the featured image in a different stanza in a poem that lacks a controlling metaphor. But the vulgar metaphor emphatically taunts the repressive Kirk with the futility of their rules and penalties, for copulation, it is implied, is as natural as fire and water. Of quite a different cast, a series of hackneyed similes contributes to our understanding of Burns's satire of the speaker in "Tam o' Shariter":

But pleasures are like poppies spread, You seize the flower, its bloom is shed; Or like the snow fa lls in the riv e r, A moment wnite--then melts for ever; Or lik e the borealis race, That flit ere you can point their place; Or like the rainbow's lovely form Evanishing amid the storm.--(1 1.59-66)

When he voices these t r it e images, the speaker sounds high-minded and 216

righteous as he thinks he should—but some of his other statements

suggest that this man fa ils to understand his total s e lf. He piles

up these lo fty comparisons as i f he is not sure he is making his point

or as i f he is trying to convince himself of the fo llie s of pleasure;

by overstating a simple idea— " it is time to go home"— he reveals his

inadequacies as a s to ry te lle r. This passage allows Burns to expose one facet of the persona's personality, and it allows the poet to

prepare for the irony emerging from some of the speaker's subsequent revelations about himself and "pleasure."

The most extensive developments of metaphors in the later satires appear in "The F§te Champetre" and "The Tree of Liberty."

The meaning of "The Tree of Liberty" depends on an extended metaphor.

That tree has flourished in France (because of the 1789 Revolution), bearing "virtuous" fruit that even a peasant or beggar can share. He selects an effective, though s ta tic , metaphor to animate Liberty;

Burns adds to his in itia l comparison by personifying growth, f r u it, buds, blossoms, locations, branches, and diseases. The metaphors are so e x p lic itly presented that i t is impossible to miss his point: The

French Revolution was admirable and it is distressful that no such freedom or "tree" exists in Britain (11.63-64). To make a negative point about politicians in a more indirect fashion than ju s t saying candidates buy votes, Burns devises a nature scene as a metaphor in

"The F£te Champetre." Mirth "on gleesome" wing flie s to summon any sprite "That sports by wood or water"; the group ignores "Cauld Boreas" but enjoys "Cynthia's car" and welcomes the western breeze (11.25-48). 217

The panorama of the "echoing wood, the winding flood,/[which] Like

Paradise did glitter" contrasts with the final stanza's satiric point:

Politics comes to the "magic ground" but is not allowed to enter until he "quat his name" (11.49-56). Burns has insinuated that politicians are "unnatural," not an organic part of the harmonious natural world.

A second type of satiric imagery is closely related. In several poems he includes both literal and figurative animals; he is drawing from the pastoral tradition, the beast-fable tradition, and personal observation when he makes animal metaphors the center of some satires. Sometimes a real animal is alluded to (as in "To M'MathM) or even characterized as a lite ra l presence in the poem (as in "Twa

Dogs"). Or he compares humans to beasts in order to disparage the person by emphasizing the b e s tia lity of the human and reduce his stature or dignity. The physical s im ilarity between an animal and a person denigrates the human form; and the virtues of the animal reveal the imperfections of man. He often makes the point that animals liv e together in more and cooperation than do people; thus i t is insulting to animals to be compared with humans.

Animals' mutual cooperation and respect is one of the main disclosures in "The Twa Dogs," in which Burns sustains animal meta­ phors throughout the poem. Here we find Luath, the poor cotter's mutt, and Ceasar, the lord's pedigreed pet, playing, talking, and sharing a friendship. Not only is their superiority to their masters implied by their friendly conversation, but Ceasar's words especially damn the gentry who haughtily flaunt their status and wealth and rebuff 218

the poor. The narrator prepares us for the "dog's eye" view of man

in an introductory description; he establishes that they are dogs, not

men in the shape of brutes. Ceasar, "whaipet some place far abroad,"

shows no arrogance about his pedigree or handsome, engraved brass-

con ar: "The fient a pride na pride had he" (11.. 11,16). Unlike the

lords he describes, neither "family" name rior wealth deters his

friendships with "lesser" dogs-~"a Tinkler-gipsey's messan [cur]" or

any “tawtied [shaggy] tyke " no matter how "duddie [ragged]" (11.18-20).

His companion, Luath, is described in more d etail: handsome and popu­

la r even though a mixed breed, his honesty, loyalty, and shrewdness

are stressed (11.29-36). Although the delineation of the two dogs is

important, after establishing the general picture Burns does not

develop the metaphor e x p lic itly and reminds us only twice of their

animal natures: "as lang's my t a i l " (1.57) and "I for joy hae basket wi1 them" (1.138), This failure to reemphasize the animality of the

dogs, however, does afford a benefit: by not stressing the dogs' animal qualities after the introductory description, Burns accents

the human-like elements of these dogs and suggests we react to their

conversation as if two poeple were talking, fhe satiric point resides

in the idea that animals behaving like humans is mure of a likelihood

than is in te llig e n t, nonbestial behavior by humans. The choice of conversationalists aids the s a tiric effect not because the talkers are dogs but because they are not two people of divergent social statuses.

But Burns's most e x p licit thrusts exist in Ceasar's scornful delineation of the gentry. Even Ceasar uses animal images when attacking his 219 master's class. For example, he declares,

L d man, our gentry care as little For delve?8 , ditchers, an* sic cattle; laborers They gang as saucy by , As I wad by a stinkan brock, (1i ,89-92) badger

In Ceasar's attack we find Burns expressing his ownobjections. Using dogs as masks does not allow the poet to attack indirectly or subtly but does free the satire from acerbity.

More crucial to Burns's s a tiric effect are the animals in "Death and Dying Words" and "Poor M ailie's Elegy," Had a human spoken

"dying words" or had the poet elegized the death of a human friend, i the sa tiric tone would be lost. The humor in "Death and Dying Words" evolves from the inappropriateness of the sheep's proclamation of advice to her offspring and to her human owner and from her delibera­ tions on weighty issues--moral behavior, educational systems, agri­ cultural methods, and theology. By putting serious ideas into the mouth of a sheep, Burns can mock those who pompously overemphasize such ideas. The banality of people's worries and advice is accentuated by Burns's use of a sheep as an orator:

My poor toop-lamh, my son an’ n r i•. 0, bid him breed up w i' care! An1 i f fie live to be a beast, To p it some havins in his breast,,1 {11.43-46] good manners or sense

Mail ie is overwrought with her own importance, to? she ceils the shepherd listener:

0 thou, whase lamentable face Appears to mourn my woefu' case! My dying movds attentive hear, An' bear them to rny Mas te r dear, (11,13-16) The speaker of "Poor M ailie's Elegy" is discussing the same subject.

The exaggerated g rief for a mere sheep--"0urB a rd ie ’ s fate is at a

close,/Past a* remead!"--mocks those who excessively mourn people they

did not lik e or hardly knew. In both pieces the animality of M ailie

is firmly established (see, for example, 11>13-18 of "Poor Mailie's

Elegy"); but her links with humans are suggested also. With the words

"forbears," "lea'e my blessin," and "her living image" Burns creates

a comparison of animal and humans that serve his point. Because he

makes an animal the spokesman, he can mock hypocritically exaggerated

g rie f, misplaced mourning, and the inanity of t r ite elegies. The

conventions of the pastoral conflict in ironic fashion with the

experiences created by the poems.

Sheep and their caretakers provide the dominating image and

define the s a tiric tone in another of the early poems. In "The Holy

Tulzie" Burns establishes both the pastoral/animal metaphors and his ironic tone--pretending concern even while ridiculing:

0 a' ye pious, godly Flocks Weel fed in pastures orthodox, Wha now w ill keep you frae the fox, Or worry in tykes? Or wha w ill tent the waifs and crocks old ewes About the dykes? (11.1-6) fences

The subsequent description of sheep flocks, "Herds" (or shepherds), and other animals extends the metaphor into a controlling structural principle for this ironic lamentation, fn the guise of describing various animals and shepherds, (Jurns, in a rare use of innuendo rather

than unmistakable suggestions, insinuates his point by simulated

innocent remarks. One shepherd (minister) likes to k ill and skin 221

"the Fulmart [polecat], Wil-Cat, Brock [badger], and Tod [fox]"--the opponents of his gospel (11.31-36). The references to predatory animals demean this c le ric 's opponents, but the minister who enjoys an unchristian bloodthirstiness is censured also. The other shepherd, who "fine a maingie sheep could scrub" and flog and boil alive, is made to look equally vicious (11.43-48). The metaphor is interwoven into the thread of the burlesque by other concrete images: one man has made his followers "black and blae/W i‘ vengeful paws"; another w ill "buff [thump] our beef"; Common Sense is a "curst cur . „ ./what bites sae sair"; and one minister demands that his flocks not taste

"poison'd Ariminian stank [pond]" but must drink from "Calvin's fountain-head" (11,71-72,77,193-94,27-30). By attributing undesirable qualities to the shepherds and by selecting animal comparisons that deride humans, Burns reduces the ecclesiastical wranglers to ridicu­ lous proportions, "Flocks" and "shepherds" are trad itio nally associated with ministers and congregations, so there is nothing innovative in his choice of metaphors. But his development, of them unmasks his pretended solicitude ana serves as a unifying image. Moreover, since

Burns presumably knew that sheep are exceptionally stupid, he adds another . Imagining the two ministers as sheep calls forth satiric associations--"rough husbandry, greedy feeding, and proprietor- £ A ial pride and grippiness." In short, the pastoral metaphor is use­ ful for the transparency of its irony,

Not dominating but scattered throughout "The Ordination" are sim ilar metaphors. Kilmarnock is figuratively transformed into a bull: 222

Now auld «*********, cock thy tail, An' toss thy horns fu' canty; cheerfully Nae mair th o u 'It rowte out-owre the dale, bellow Because thy pasture's scanty; For lapfu's large o' gospel kail Shall fill thy crib in plenty. . . .(11.46-51)

Fornicators are "rams that cross the breed" and villagers are "the flock." But the animal imagery appears only interm ittently, adding to Burns's tone of mock-celebration but not determining the s a tiric point. In contrast, "Herds" who are "Maist like to fight" are the central metaphor of another of Burns's attacks on quarrels among ecclesiasts ("To William Simpson--Postscript," 11.113-14). "A uld - light flocks are bleatan" and "new-light herds gat sic a cowe

[beating]" (11.163,157); they dispute about the origin and patterns of the moon. Depicting two shepherds (each with his flock) arguing about the moon is Burns's generalized way of describing two ecclesias­ tic a l groups' dispute about Calvinist dogma. This imagistic motif unfolds throughout the Postscript, unifies the stanzas, and thinly disguises the real victims of Burns's satire. In both poems, the masking devices--pretended celebration and pretended disinterest about a "moonshine niatter"--allow Burns to satirize indirectly.

One of the smaller and more vulgar inhabitants of the animal world is spotlighted in "To a Louse," an early satire distinguished by its absorption of a conventionally unpoetic subject. The louse is addressed as i f i t could hear and heed the advice to leave Jenny's bonnet. The persona ascribes to this mobile creature other human qualities by mentioning its "impudence," by accusing i t of being

"right bauld," and by chastizing it for "daring" to invade a lady's 223 bonnet. The apostrophe to the louse does not persuade us to consider i t human or to feel our human dignity insulted. The louse is ju st its e lf, unaware of the impact of its actions. I t is the only

"character" in the small scene that is true to its nature; not a victim of satire, the louse is the catalyst whose actions enable

Burns to attack his real targets: Jenny's pretentiousness and the persona's naivete.65

S atiric imagery drawn from the animal kingdom is also pervasive in the la te r poetry. Many of these comparisons are b rie f, contained in single-word formulas whose unravelling Burns leaves to our expert ience and common sense., Others are more extensive, with Burns adding details about the vehicle that clarify its bearing on the tenor. His methods of u tilizin g animal imagery are much the same as in the early poetry.

Some of the comparisons of human action are made to vicious and predatory creatures, thus serving to demean the actors. The persona of "Tam o' Shanter" describes the witches chasing Tam "As bees bizz out wi' angry fyke [fuss],/When plundering herds assail their byke

[swarml"; his choice of simile expresses their potential force and 66 danger (11.193-94). When describing the preface to a political war, Burns dramatizes Confusion riding through the borough, "Whistling his roaring pack abroad/Of mad, unmuzzled lions" ("Epistle to Graham,"

11.13-15). He characterizes the French Bourbons' treatment of those who seek lib erty by labelling them "beagles hunting game" ("Tree of

Liberty," 1.46). Saying that "Auld Kate [Catherine of Russia]" "laid 224 her claws" on Stanislaus fits the attack on warmakers voiced in "When

Princes and Prelates." In "New Psalm" P itt and Thurlow are likened to "two howling, ravening wolves" who are also so cowardly that they run away from dogs (E zek.X X II.27;Zeph.III.3). None of these compari­ sons is or ingenious enough to bring freshness to well-worn themes.67

Brief animal metaphors not only contribute to the development of Burns's attacks, but a more expanded one creates a unified poem.

"The Calf," based on a Biblical text--"And they shall go forth, and grow up, like CALVES of the stall"--puns on calves (Mai.IV.2). Each stanza of this epistle concludes with mention of some synonym for calf: " S tir k [young bullock]," "stot," "horns*" “Noute [oxen or cattle]," "B u llo a k"; Burns is simultaneously tracing the man's life from minister to parish priest to husband to cuckold to corpse. The point of the cattle metaphor depends on our realization that the man is not a c a lf and shows none of the characteristics of one! Burns has merely elaborated on the metaphor implicit in the man's text for his sermon. Actually the poet seems to be cruelly ridiculing a minis­ te r he had met only once, and apparently he has no particular point to make. He demonstrates a sim ilar enthusiasm for the in "Epistle to Graham," where he imagines himself a bird; he projects himself into the poem's events as "a cool Spectator purely" who is "TheRobin in the hedge [th a t] descends,/And patient chirps securely" as i f to emphasize his pose as a disinterested observer of the political war

(11.115-20; ita lic s added). He takes advantage of innuendo in order to leave undisturbed his pretended detachment from the scene. 225

Although the later poetry does illu s tra te Burns s t ill using the same patterns and types of animal images, his attempts at extended or controlling metaphors are poorer--resulting in less unity and more confusion about his point. No later satires show him controlling real and figurative animals so closely interlinked with satiric ideas as is demonstrated in the Mailie poems or "The Twa Dogs" or "The Holy

Tulzie." Brief metaphors appear, but no new complexities or uses are introduced in the later pieces.

To Burns, human lif e is just as fru itfu l a source of metaphoric imagery as are nature and animals. His vehicles are drawn from four areas of human a ctivity: domestic concerns, such as clothing, eating, and drinking, sexual activity, caring for a family's household and medical needs; the more external concerns of business and commerce, o f making.a livin g ; the events of war, state, and government; socializing, sports, and games. The same sorts of general patterns appear in both early and later satires. Burns w ill sometimes explicitly state his point but sometimes leave the image free for us to make appropriate associations. The metaphors may be b rie f, even single-word formulas, or extended over several stanzas, or even expanded into controlling metaphors for the total poem. There are no significant differences in the amount, types, uses, or patterns of metaphorical images between early and la te r poems.

In the early satires the domestic activities of child-care, sewing, drinking, and engaging in sex are inserted into b rie f passages.

Burns concretely describes his Muse as i f she were a small child who has fallen down and is now calling for her mother: she sits "on her

arse/Low i 1 the dust,/An' scriechan out prosaic verse/An' lik e to

brust" ("Author's Cry and Prayer," 11.7-12). This self-mockery helps

him quickly establish tone in a poem that gently chides the s a tiric

victims. Similarly, contributing to be familiarized, human depiction

of Death is this : Death's work is to "nick the

thread" ("Death and Doctor Hornbook," 1.69), making death sound as

triv ia l as a housewife clipping loose threads from a garment. The

idea of people drinking at God's fountain is conventional; Burns

adds a derogatory sneer to this image when he equates "springs of

C_lv_n" and "gumlie [muddy] dubs" ("Dedication to Hamilton," 11.67-68).

When Holy Willie says " I'll ne'er lift a lawless leg/Again upon her,"

he voices an abbreviated promise not to fornicate (11.47-48). W illie's

use of the synedoche rather than a direct statement exposes his desire

to avoid direct confession. He is trying to circumvent saying

exactly what he did, a habit of evasion that he demonstrates through­

out the poem. As these examples indicate, Burns, by closely observ­

ing human actions, can create concrete metaphors that focus our 68 attention on attitudes of his personae and himself.

Clothing metaphors frequently reveal the wearer's character.

In "The Holy Fair" Burns uses clothing imagery conventionally.

"Superstition" and "Hypocrisy" are dressed in "manteeles o' dolefu' black,/But ane wi' lyart [streaked, gray] lining" (11.14-15). "Fun,"

however, "Was in the fashion shining/Fu' gay that day" (11.17-18).

All the participants in the fair have dressed in their best, indicating 227

their opinion of this social gathering; in fact, some are thinking

"upo1 their claes" rather than upon their sins or God (11.82-83).

Expressing his h o s tility toward the wearer, in another poem Burns

imposes subjective conceptions of a man's a ttire :

Or is 't the paughty, feudal Thane, cunning Wi' ru ffl'd sark an' glancin cane, Wha thinks himsel nae sheepshank bane, not unimportant But lordly stalks. . . .("Second Epistle to Lapraik," 11.67-70)

In another context the second line could be simply informative about

someone's appearance. But exaggeration in the passage and especially

the words "lordly stalks" and "paughty" strike at the victim's arro­

gance. In one of his more effective images, Burns again describes

lite ra l clothing: "Dames/Ty'd up in godly laces" ("Address to the

Unco Guid," 1.42). Beyond informing that they wear corsets and are

thus fashionable women, the image suggests that they are tied up or

restrained in their self-righteousness. They are so constrained that

they cannot breathe (feel compassion for anyone). In the compact metaphor Burns says economically what he reiterates throughout the


Burns makes clothing metaphors serve his satire in another way;

he shows that a ttire may merely camouflage the person's real character.

Just as he scorns those who "rate the wearer by the cloak" ("To Mr.

John Kennedy," 1.20), he argues:

Think, wicked Sinner, wha ye're skaithing: damaging It 's ju st the Blue-gaum badge an' claithing, O' Saunts; tak that, ye lea'e them naething, To ken them by, Frae ony unregenerate Heathen, Like you or I. ("Epistle to Rankin," 11.19-24) 228

By wearing appropriate clothing, the minister suggests, his pious character, but Burns perceives that priestly garb often disguises the hypocritical, vicious nonchrlstian beneath* The equating of

"hypocrisy" and "h o ly ro b e" and the withering epithet--"a greedy glowr Black-bonnet"--make the same point more concisely ("Epistle to

Rankin," 11.13-14; "The Holy Fair," 1.69).69

Remedies for illnesses and wounds are used in three poems as s a tiric metaphors. In "A Dream" the metaphor is b rief and simple: peace will "p'laister" Britain's "broken shins" (11.46-47). The meta­ phor is simultaneously complimentary and derogatory. At the same time the speaker is praising the government for bringing peace, he implies his disregard for the previous war and for the leaders who supported the war. Burns specifies "cantharldian plaisters"

(plasters of Spanish fly used as medicine or as aphrodisiacs) in

"The Holy Fair":

Hear how he [a minister] clears the point o' Faith Wi! r a ttlin an' thumpin! . His lengthen'd chin, his turn'd up snout, His eldritch squeel an' gesture?, 0 how they fi^e the heart devout, Like cantharldian plaisters. , (11.109-16)

The intrusion of the sexual reference into this exaggerated description of a sermonrenders the man an object of laughter andcontempt; more­ over, i t advances the poet's theme: sexual and spiritual needs are inextricably intertwined Speirs adds that the gestures, already exaggerated by the minister, are magnified by Burns "to the point of i t being suggested that, the preacher a jig in the pulpit. 229

The extensive development of medical imagery in the f ir s t four

stanzas of "Epistle to Goldie" is in trin sic to the satire, for those

stanzas embody a ll the attack in the poem. By mention of "ten Egyptian

plagues" the f ir s t stanza introduces the image pattern. The next

three stanzas develop this motif: "gapin, glowrin Superstition" needs

"Black Jock [a minister] her state-physician" but she w ill probably

"ne'er get better"; Enthusiasm (religious extravagance) is "gane in

a gallopin consumption" beyond the aid of "a1 her quacks w i1 a' their

gumption"; Auld Orthodoxy "fetches at the thrapple [throat]/And

fights for breath." The pattern expresses Burns's hope; the sick

Auld Licht Orthodoxy, recipients of his satire here and elsewhere, is

dying out in Scotland.

As its t it l e suggests, medical imagery dominates in "Death and

Doctor Hornbook." Here the focus is on the doctor working at his

profession, rather than on the illnesses. The implied metaphor of the whole poem is that Hornbook is a quack, not a doctor. The speaker,

Death, lis ts Hornbook's tools and his medications, giving us a picture of the presumptuous doctor surrounded by equipment while he tends his

patients. The whole piecerefers to diseases, medicines, and equip­ ment as a way of attacking the incompetent and dishonest physician.

We must call on our knowledge of doctors' proper procedures in order

to understand the Implications in Burns's depiction of Hornbook, as

in this vivid description of his diagnostic techniques: "Ev'n them he canna get attended, "Altho* their face he ne'er had kend it, "Just sh in a kai1-blade and send it, "As soon's he smells 't , "Baith their disease, and what will mend it, "At once he tells ’t." (11.109-14)

The lends newness and shock value to a picture of a doctor diagnosing; more commonplace, though ju st as defamatory, is the asser­ tion that the doctor "has clad a score i ' their last claith" and sent some to their "lang hame" (11.149,167).

Other figures drawn from the world of work appear rarely in the early poems. Burns dees reduce ministers to the level of patent- medicine hawkers when he says they sell lies and "nail" them with references to the Bible ("Death and Doctor Hornbook," 11.5-6), and he emphasizes the promiscuity of the soldier's woman by comparing her mouth to an alms' dish eager to receive anything ("Love and Liberty,"

1.23). The domestic metaphors appear almost exclusively in the early satires--in fact, the later poetry exhibits no examples of satiric imagery drawn from illness or medications. Figures drawn from the world of work and commerce are somewhat more frequent in the la te r satires. Some are b rie f, simple comparisons, such as Burns's eluci­ dation of dishonest political actions: William Pitt and Charles Fox are smugglers and sneak thieves of "laurels" ("Sketch to Fox," 11.45-50).

Even more ordinary is his epithet for Mrs. Oswald--"keeper of Marrmon's iron chest" ("Ode to Mrs. Oswald," 1 .1 4 ).^ In "Buy Braw Troggin" the metaphorical imagery of commerce--buying, sellin g , stealing --is intrinsic to the satire. The persona is a peddler who does not sell pins or clothes or tools but hawks a conscience that "was never worn," the lead from a man's head, the worth of a man contained in a needle's

eye, "a noble Earl's/Fame and high renown" that were probably stolen.

Through metaphoric descriptions of what they do, Burns invokes the

discrimination of common sense to judge his victims. All this builds

to the climactic end that i f no buyer can be found, Satan w ill gladly

purchase them. The s a tiric point is made through repetition of the

same pattern; the theme is not explored any further, and the trite

metaphors bring no freshness to the theme.

Many of Burns's deprecating images in the early satires are

drawn from the a c tiv itie s of governmental leaders. These metaphors appear as b rie f tropes in the satires, adding directly or indirectly

to Burns's attack but are not organically crucial to the satire. In

"Love and Liberty," for example, both the soldier and the doxy speak

of their experiences with the m ilitary. The soldier's image of war

as "the gallant game" and his image of himself as "a Son of Mars" characterize his enjoyment of war; Burns's attack is levelled at the

society that views this partisan as useless. When the doxy describes her lovers among the Regiment, she does not mention names of personali­

ties but says "From the gilded SP0NT00N [half-pike with a hook] to the

FIFE I was ready," emphasizing that war needs bodies for fodder, not

fully realized individuals. In "The Ordination" the Auld Lichts are

lik e some conquering army overtaking a town that has long defied them:

"Auld Orthodoxy" uses the nine-tail cat to peel the skin "as ane were

peeling onions'; two Auld Lichts torture and behead Heresy (11.91-93,

104-05,114-17). Having won the war the Auld Lichts take vengeance on 232 th eir foes. Even a minister's imprecations about Hell and lost souls are described as "piercin words, lik e highlan swords" ("The Holy Fair,"

1.185); his speech is prefaced by "trumpet touts" as a battle might be. Although extravagant, these are based on truth, making the attack more biting. The persona of "Author's Cry and

Prayer" includes thinly disguised threats of war against Parliament, when he speculates that were he a fighter lik e Montgomery, "There's some sark-neoks [collars] I wad dvau tight,/An' ty e some hose well"

(11.59-60), He speaks figuratively when he warns:

Her [Scotland's] tartan petticoat she'll kilt An' durk an1 pistol at her belt, She'll tak the streets, An' rin her w hittle to the h i lt , I 1 the first she meets! (11.98-102)

He exaggerates in both warnings; but he is only half-mockingly de­ scribing his or Scotland's actions. The hyperbole allows him to sound as if he gently chides but also contains a modicum of truth: if the

Parliament does not change the whiskey laws, Scots members are lik e ly to find themselves rejected at the next election or even threatened with bodily harm, A serious warning lies beneath the exaggeration.

Sim ilarly, Burns injects m ilitary terms with sarcasm when he describes the force of the Kirk:

The Priest anathemas rnay threat, Predicament, S ir, that we're b aitn 'in ; But when honor's re v e ille is beat, The holy artillery's naething.--("Extempore to Hamilton," 11.41-44)

In two other early poems--"Address of Beelzebub" and "The

Fornicator"--he is using m ilitary forces and events of battle for comparative purposes. In "The Fornicator" his involvement is confirmed 233 by the personal attestation of the tone and of isolatedpassages. He seeks to defend his actions by paralleling himself with"warlike

Kings and Heroes bold,/Great Captains and Commanders" who also are

"ranked Fornicator" (11,41-48). In effect, he demands that the Kirk also condemn those heroes i f they dare censure Burns's sexual deeds.

Mention in "Beelzebub" of British and American leaders in the

American Revolution allows Burns to compare the two groups and to note that the latter were the better generals; moreover, thecontext indicates th t he links the Highland Society with the incompetent

British generals and the Highlanders with the skilled Americans. The persona promises that he w ill seat the Highland Society members with

Herod, Polycrate, Almagro, and Pizarro--a subtly ironic way for Burns to allude to the destination of the Society members.

In the later satires he re-uses many of the same types of m ili­ tary metaphors to achieve sim ilar s a tiric ends. For example, he is able to strike a note of pretended concern in "Epistle to Graham" by wishing he had "a throat like huge Monsmeg" with which to celebrate 73 the war (1.25),, Although this poem uses some nature metaphors, it depends mainly on military images as its controlling pattern.

Burns is describing a local election as i f two armies--Whigs and Tories- are clashing,, Direct mention of war (1.19) identifies his basic metaphor that is then reiterated by generalized references to "heroes bright," "muster." "tanner," "field of Politics." Some soldiers led

"light-arm ’d core" and "blew up each Tory's dark designs," while others

"brought up th 1 a r tille r y ranks" and led "Squadrons" to the charge

(11.37,41-42,49-51,58-60) Then, . . > o'er the fie ld the combat burns, The T o n e ;, Whigs, give way by turns, But Fate the word has spoken. . . . The Tory ranks are broken. — (11.91-96)

In three other late poems— "The Kirk of Scotland's Garland,"

"Second Heron Ballad," and "Johnie B's Lament"--Burns makes such m ilitary images serve as s a tiric comparisons; although the metaphors contribute to s a tiric meanings of b rief passages, they do not form a cohesive element in any of the three. Even though "Kirk's . . .

Garland" starts with the persona sounding an alarm— ''for Hannibal's just at your gates"—And declaring that Calvin's sons should bring their "spiritual guns," he does not maintain that initial metaphor.

Some withering epithets— for those who have gun powder in their hearts and lead in their skulls— continue the metaphor, but a fter the fifth stanza he turns to other s a tiric images. S im ilarly, in the

"Second Heron Ballad" he refers to "light horse" that must muster and thus in the fir s t stanza introduces a potentially controlling metaphor; but Burns immediately abandons it and wanders aimlessly.

An imagistic motif— rather than isolated b rie f metaphors drawn from various sources—might have given unity to a sprawling and repetitious lis t of politicians that Burns attacks. In "Johnie B's Lament"

Burns sustains a war metaphor throughout the poem but does so in a generalized and mechanical way. The imagery has no organic relationship to this mock-1 ament; the words and phrases are so conventional and abstract that they give our imagination nothing specific to fix on.

Although unity can be gained from a continuity of images, in nope 74 of these three s atiric poems does he make the elements cohere. 235

In a -fourth subsection of "human action" are s a tiric metaphors based on games, sports, socializing. To contrast the "selfish, warly

[worldly] race," who yield good manners, "sense an' grace/Ev'n love an' friendship" to the quest for money, he invites those whom "the tide o f kindness warms" to "come to my bowl, come to my arms" ("Epistle

to Lapraik," 11.115-26), Such imagery is a controlling metaphor of

"The Holy Fair," which is constructed "on the fundamental irony of 75 worship, drink, and sexual love set in juxtaposition." While the ministers deliver sermons, some are listening but more are "winkan on

the lasses," adding to the clamor of the "change-house," and making plans for later rendezvous,, The consistent intermingling of the socializing with the contemplation of religious concerns is what gives "The Holy Fair" its distinctive quality as a satiric exposure of the futility of the Kirk's repression. Natural instincts will rise, no matter what the ministers threaten; the images Burns creates lead us naturally to an ambiguous conclusion--"some are fou o' love divine" and "some are fou o' brandy " (11.239-40). Subtlety and indirec­ tion are predominant characteristics of the satiric imagery in this poem. The subtlety comes mainly from the persona's amused and detached view; he makes no blatant attack. Implicit attack lies in the whole setting, the ironic contrast between what the Kirk wants and what people do.

In contrast to "The Holy Fair's" reflection of Burns's approval of social a c tiv itie s , in "The lwa Dogs" he makes Ceasar's imagery caricature the gentry's socializing: 236

At Operas an* Plays parading, Mortgaging, gambling, masquerading: Or maybe, in a fro lic daft, To HAGUE or CALAIS takes a waft, To make a to u r an' take a w h irl, To learn bon to n an' see the w o rl'. . . . Wh_re-hunting amang groves o' myrtles: Then bowses drumlieGerman-water. . . .(11.153-66) drinks; turbid

The sense of madness in this imagery of action depends on the p a rti­ cipants' mindless dedication to and ridiculous a c tiv ity .

It is interesting that Burns also lets Luath use socializing images

that contrast the unity and happiness of the cotters' actions with

the pettiness in the gentry's affairs. Ceasar declares "There's sic

parade, sic pomp an' art,/The joy can scarcely reachthe heart"

(11.213-14), while Luath expounds:

That merry day the year begins, They bar the door on frosty win's; The nappy reeks w i' mantling ream, ale; froth An' sheds a heart-inspiring steam; The luntan pipe, an' sneeshin m ill, smoking; snuff box Are handed round wi' right guid w ill; The cantie, auld folks, crackan crouse, chatting merrily The young anes rantan thro' the house— My heart has been sae fain to see them, That I for joy hae bccrket wi1 them. (11.129-38; see also 11.123-28)

Thus Burns controls our view of these two groups— peasants and lords— through his metaphorical images, and he develops contrasts out of the same basic material, The dogs' camaraderie with each other and their use of social metaphors to depict their masters provide a cohering conception, a center upon which the poem turns.

"Love and Liberty" depicts the participants' drinking as impor­ tant to their amicable gathering. In their final song, "Jolly mortals f i l l your glasses," communal drinking even becomes an expression of 237 defiance of the world outside which ostracizes and judges them harshly.

The imagery of socializing is important, for it controls the poem's focus and contrasts with the implied restrictions the Establishment wants to impose. By the use of the social imagery Burns indirectly attacks the outside world's intolerance and approves the communal band. In "The Ordination" the social metaphors are inextricably tied to the satire, Wild exaggeration of the persona's joy and of the excessive drinking--"an" pour divine 1ibations/For joy this day"— becomes a way for Burns to disto rt the actual event. Furthermore the celebration is held at a local tavern, an acceptable site for a party— but not for the ordination of an orthodox, strict minister. By making the theological ceremony a tavern gathering, Burns effectively insinuates his opinion of the minister, his followers, and their strait-laced beliefs.

In the preceding poems, the social metaphors center on drinking and conversing; in another group of early poems, Burns finds card games a source of s a tiric associations. The metaphors are b rie f, voicing simple and straight-forward assaults on his targets. To the

Prince of Wales, the speaker addresses a supposedly concerned warning that the heir w ill "curse your fo lly sairly" that he " ra ttl'd dice w i' Charlie/By night or day" ("A Dream," 11.87-90). The lig h tly mock­ ing tone of the poem gains by the use of images from ganbling; and

Burns simultaneously demeans the frivolities of two men—the Prince and

Charles Fox. Again suggesting that Fox pays insufficient attention to his job, Burns sneers: Yon ill-tongu'd tinkler, Charlie Fox, May taunt you w i' his jeers an' mocks; But gie hint 't het, my heart cocks! hot E'en cowe the cadie! An' send him to his dicing box, An' sportin lady. ("Author's Cry and Prayer, 11.109-14)

To pinpoint a failure of British leadership, Burns once more links

Fox and card games:

Then Clubs an' Hearts were C h a rlie 's cartes, He swept the stakes awa', man, T ill the Diamond's Ace, of In d ia n race, Led him a sair fa u x pas, man. . . .("When Guilford Good," 11.49-52)

Crawford adds that in this stanza Burns is referring derogatorily

to "Fox's short-lived political victory in 1783 and the collapse of 76 the ministry after the defeat of his famous India Bill." It is no

accident that the only three s a tiric images drawn from cards and

gambling attack Fox, for he was noted for his proclivity to gamble.

Thus certain epithets attacked to Fox trigger allusions for the

re a d er.^

The fourth major type of Burns's s a tiric imagery consists of

those figures of speech and analogies drawn from written learning.

He makes no s a tiric use of images drawn from s c ie n tific studies;

references to classical mythology appear sparingly but are rarely

used for s a tiric reasons. The predominant number of comparisons are

drawn from the Bible, , and Calvinist dogma.

Burns demonstrates an extensive knowledge of the Bible, the chief book in Scots homes, arid of the Kirk's teachings. Biblical

personages and stories, the Kirk's dogma, and the Kirk's actions are 239

used by Burns in elucidating his satire. One way in which Burns mocks the seriouness of the Kirk's teachings is by borrowing its conventional picture of Hell and making i t so exaggerated or placing i t in such a context that the ridicule is obvious. For example, Holy W illie thinks Hell a place of "burning lakes,/Where damned devils roar and yell/Chain'd to their stakes" (11.22-24). In this generalized de- scription he is apparently parroting what he has been taught, but he speaks very impersonally as i f he is describing something that awaits other people, not him, He speaks superficially rather than as one who has seriously contemplated the re a lity of Hell or the possibility that it awaits him. Conventional, too, is the more detailed picture given in "The Holy Fair" where the ministers describe Hell as "A vast, unbottom'd, boundless P i t , / F i l l 'd fou o' Iowan brunstane./Whase raging flame, an1 scorching heat,/Wad melt the hardest whunstane"

(11.190-93). Immediately a fter this "terrifying" image, Burns implies his opinion: "The half-asleep start up w i' fear,/An' think they hear i t rdaran,/When presently i t does appear,/'Twas but some neebor snoran. . . ." (11.194-97). Daiches calls attention to the "mis­ chievously ambiguous use of biblical and religious imagery" that pervades "The Holy Pair" and shows "how the claims of the flesh assert 78 themselves in the very midst of a professedly spiritual exercise."

Burns initiates here a conflict between flesh and spirit that he will emphasize throughout the poem. "Address to the Deil" also includes a frightening picture: Hell is "yon cavern grim an' sooty" where the

Devil "Spairges [sprinkles] about the brunstane cootie [tub],/To scaud 240 poor wretches" (11.3-6). But when this passage is preceded by charac­ terization of Hell's ruler as "Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie," i t loses serious force, The persona is not afraid; he repeats the conventional image of Hell without indicating that he agrees with it 79 or even considers i t seriously. In "Address of Beelzebub" the persona welcomes members of the Highland Society to "my HOUSE AT

HAME." His "house" is like a castle where all dine together, given designated seats as i f at a royal dinner party. Beelzebub's descrip­ tion of Hell contrasts with the K irk's, but the devil is remarkably unconvincing about the merits of joining him. The traditional depiction of Hell depends on metaphoric associations, but those associations are not invented by Burns; he merely repeats them, in an exaggerated way.

In these poems the irony lies in the contrast between the preachers' desired responses to their magnified threats of Hell and the listeners' misunderstanding or disregard.

The hospitality and generosity with which Burns imbues Beelzebub suggests that the devil has characteristics contrary to those described by the Kirk. Burns also mocks the ecclesiasts' solemn attitude toward

Satan by such similes as

Auld H ornie did the L aigh K irk watch, Just like a winkin baudrons: cat And ay he catch'd the tith e r wretch other To fry them in his caudrons. . . .("The Ordination," 11.84-8

In the view of traditional C h ristian ity, the Devil's major act was the seduction of Adam and Eve that led to the Fall from Paradise. This act, in "Address to the Dei1 , is equated, however, with a ll the other triv ia l pranks committed by the Devil. Burns's novel view of the Fall and of Satan has ironic value:

Then you, ye auld, snick-drawing dog! Ye cam to Paradise incog, An' play'd on a man a cursed brogue, trick (Black be your f a ' !) An' gied the infant war Id a shog, shock 'Maist ruin'd a'. (11.91-96)

Not from ignorance but from whim and a desire to jog the grave clerics

Burns makes Satan a prankster, a friendly fellow--the reverse of the church's depiction.

References to other Biblical persons and stories also develop

Burns's satire. Much of "The Ordination's" attack emerges from the juxtaposition of Biblical images and sensual pursuits in this mocking celebration of a minister's ordination. The speaker asks that "a proper text be read": how Ham, father of Canaan, laughed at his naked father and was by him cursed to be slave to his brothers; how Phineas slew an Is ra e lite and a heathen woman, thus winning for himself God's praise and covenant of priesthood; how Zipporah circumcised Moses so on that the Lord would not kill him (11.28-36). All the texts, however are indecorous and unsuitable to a religious celebration; in their emphasis on bloodletting and vengeance they are ironically suited to what Burns conceives to be the true character of the Auld Lichts. Two stanzas la te r he paraphrases another Biblical account (Ps.CXXXVII.1-2)

Nae mair by Babel's streams w e'll weep, To think upon our Zion; And hi rig our fiddles up to sleep, Like baby-clouts a-dryin. . . .(11.55-58)

The extravagance of this comparison—between the melancholy plaint of the Israelites and the lament of the Auld Lichts before one of their 242

group was ordained--produces irony. The comparison stresses just how

trivial the Auld Licht festivity is and how hypocritical the celebrants

are. Although the poem would s t ill make its s a tiric point to someone

unacquainted with these Biblical stories, knowledge of them reveals

the degree to which Burns sustains his ironic tone.

In the later satires Burns continues to draw, though less fre ­

quently, on Biblical materials and the teachings of the Kirk. In all of these—as is true for "The Ordination"--he makes a relationship between the Biblical past and the experiences of the day— in order to be s a tiric about the present. The t it l e of "New Psalm" indicates the metaphor in Burns's extravagant approach to the King's recovery from 81 madness. The attack on the king and his counselors is conveyed by the exaggerated tone of joy and the inappropriateness of the Biblical comparison. He makes God's deliverance of King George I I I analogous to God's deliverance of David. Burns also ridicules "that Young Man"

[William P itt] whom he describes as "great in Issachar/The burden- bearing Tribe"; Issachar, a gelded ass who lies in the cattle-pens, cheerfully submitted to perpetual forced labor (11.15-16; Gen.XLIX.14-15).

Without our sharing a knowledge of the Biblical text with Burns, that passage would not appear s a tiric and we would miss his point.

Similar satirical analogies dominate "The Dean of the Faculty." The candidate whom Burns thinks incompetent is said to have "'mid Learning's store,/Commandment the tenth remember'd" (11.11-12). Although Burns offers vain hope- As once on Pisgah purg'd was the sight Of a son of Circumcision, So may be, on this Pisgah height, BOB's purblind, mental vision. . . .(11.25-28)—

the comparison of Bob to Moses insinuates that the man w ill not cross

the "Jordan" and enter into "the promised land" (knowledge). Analo­

gical imagery isagain developed in "Reply to a Tailor"; here two basic metaphors appear, each the controlling image of one half of the

poem. Burns, partly in s e lf-ju s tific a tio n and partly in contempt of

this stranger who censured his sexuality, links himself with King David, who enjoyed many women sexually yet is ranked "the chief/0' lang syne

saunts" (11.17-18). The second h a lf of the poem develops around a pun on Matthew's injunction that i f a member of the body is diseased or a cause of sin, then i t should be cut o ff (M att.V.30). Burns is that his "offending member" (genitalia) should not be severed.

The specific example--Burns is penalized for fornication by the same church that calls David saint— is overstated; controlled by his per­ sonal tone, the metaphor becomes an indictment of the whole of Kirk 82 repression and hypocrisy.

Burns's use of Biblical analogies in both early and la te r satires has several features. He records a conventional metaphor--e.g. depiction of Hell--but puts the account in such a context that we are persuaded not to view i t seriously. He is not presenting the conventional as one half of a comparison so much as restating an accepted image and then ridiculing i t by hyperbole. For 244 example, the Kirk supposedly teaches of the horrors of Hell and the

Devil in order to bring people penitently to God. In Burns's satires, however, the Kirk describes Hell as torturing indiscriminately, as

God's punishment for those not labelled Chosen by the Kirk; those who think themselves Chosen talk of Hell in a show of arrogance, as a way of bragging about what w ill never be their fate; Hell is often ignored by the sinful because i t has been prated about so much that i t has become a "dead metaphor." Juxtaposing Biblical persons and events with human figures creates extravagant analogies that are not meant to attack the Bible but to mock the pomposity of the Auld Lichts, King

George, and the new dean of the faculty. Burns's use of Biblical analogues accentuates how far removed the pompous are from the high levels they assume.

Burns makes sim ilar uses of allusions and analogies to pieces of literature (again including the Bible, though utilized differently).

He chooses some of the headnotes for his satires from lite ra ry pieces, sometimes quoting them exactly and sometimes parodying them. These headnotes serve one of two major functions: they identify the s a tiric subject and tone of the poem that follows; or they form an ironic contrast to the poem they introduce. He uses these epigraphs for satiric effects more frequently in the early satires than in the la te r. For the most part these allusions are obvious, although they require that we share knowledge with the poet i f the allusion is to function as a s a tiric metaphor. Since the poems in which they appear are made s a tiric by other methods--often by other metaphorical images-- 245 no obscurity results i f we do not recognize the allusion. Understand­ ing the reference, however, affords us with a more extensive perception of his attacks.

Some epigraphs identify the s a tiric tone and/or subject of the poems. Burns's interpretation of Solomon's speech identifies his satiric target, his own attitude, and his theme in "Address to the Unco


My Son3 these maxims make a ru le 3 And lump them ay thegither; The Ri_gid Righteous is a fo o t. The Rigid Wise a n ith e r: The cle a n e s t corn th a t e ’ e r was d ig h t May hae some plyes o' ca ff in ; So ne'er a fellow-creature slight For random fits o' daffin. SOLOMON.— Eccles. ch. v ii. vers. 16

As promised by the headnote, the poem censures the "rig id ly righteous" for intolerance and arrogant lack of compassion toward those who reveal their "fauts and folly." Similarly, Burns uses a couplet from Pope's

Dunciad as the for "The Holy Tulzie": "Blockheads with reason 83 wicked Wits abhor,/But Fool with Fool is barbarous c iv il war." He introduces his view of the quarreling ministers and the mocking tone he w ill adopt while making his persona express excessive sorrow. This passage prefaces "The Holy Fair":

A rohe of seeming truth and trust Hid crafty Observation; And secret hurtg3 with poison'd crust3 The dirk of Defamation: A mc.sk th a t lik e the g o rg e t show ’d3 Dye-varying3 on the pigeon; And fo r a mantle large and broad3 He wrapt him in Religion.-- on Hypocrisy a-la-Mode 246

This preface, outlining the deceptive hypocrite who cloaks his "poisoned self" in Religion, fits a poem which unveils the hypocritical ministers who preach strict Calvinism but allow secular festivities in order to attract large crowds. In effect, this headnote alerts us to the s a tiric theme o f "The Holy Fair." Two lines that Burns labels a

"parody on Milton" precede "Author's Cry and Prayer." Whereas Milton wrote "0 fairest of Creatioin, last and best" and "How a rt thou lo st, how on a sudden lost," Burns says, "Dearest of Distillation! last and 85 best!--/--how a rt thou lost! — " He has juxtaposed Adam and Eve's loss of Paradise because of Satan's deceit and their own weaknesses with Scotland's loss of whiskey d is tille rie s because of Parliamentary law. The incongruity between the two prepares for Burns's mocking chastisement of Parliament and for his arguments for repeal.

Other epigraphs do not so obviously introduce the s a tiric quali­ ties of poems they precede. Burns prefaces "Holy W illie 's Prayer" 86 with a line from Pope: "And send the Godly in a pet to pray." I f we take this at face value, we expect a prayer by a godly man who happens to be vexed about something, The ironic twist emerges from

"Godly," for this dramatic monologue reveals how alienated Willie is from God. The comparison of W illie and a "godly" Christian, however, gives a coherence to the poem. Burns's choice of epigraphs for

"Halloween" is neither providing an ironic contrast nor identifying his topic. By quoting Goldsmith--

Yes.' let the rich deride, the Proud disdain3 The simple pleasures of the lowly train; To me more dear, congenial to my heart, g-j One n a tiv e cho.vm, than a ll the gloss of art — 247

he is informing that his ridicule of the peasants' efforts to learn

the future and their fear to await results of their rituals will not

be derisive nor disdainful. In generally outlining subject matter

and repudiating two possible attitudes, the epigraph guides us. His

borrowing from Milton in "Address to the Deil" affords more obvious

ironic contrasts. In his epigraph he quotes: "0 Prinoe3 0 ohief of many throned pow 'rsj /That led th ’ embattl'd Seraphim to wan"; in a

le tte r he writes of "the dauntless magnanimity; the intrepid unyield­

ing independance [s ic ]; the desperate daring, and noble defiance of 88 hardship, in that great persoqage, Satan." Both of these passages seem to promise a depiction of an heroic Satan. What appears in

"Address to the D eil," however, is quite d iffe re n t, more plainly foreshadowed by the f ir s t two lines--"0 thou, whatever t i t l e suit thee!/Auld Hornie, Satan, Nick, or Clootie"—which echo Pope's "0 thou! whatever t it l e please thine ear,/Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or 89 G ulliver!" The juxtaposition of Milton's seriousness and the poem's casual acceptance of Auld Hornie as a practical joker creates an 90 enveloping irony. Furthermore, by selecting a headnote that con­ trasts with his own depiction, Burns can block o ff our usual ideas and associations about Satan.

By electing to use epigraphs for several of his satires, Burns demands that we make analogies--that we compare characters, events, and themes. The results are that he heightens his s a tiric intensity by playing on ironic discrepancies, by announcing the satiric intent so that we are prepared to read a poem with certain expectations 248 and attitudes. This type of analogical imagery is especially effective in the early satires as a way for him to identify and accent his mocking tone.

After viewing the ways in which Burns uses language to develop his satires, i t becomes more obvious that Burns executes verbal strategies with more ski?! and coordination of parts in the early poetry--with the exception of "'i'am o’ Shanter," where he is again at the peak of his form. In the later poems he is more heavy-handed in his use of ambiguity as well as more hackneyed in imagery; in them he is more explicit, using more invective. In the earlier pieces, he works more indirectly, letting juxtapositions, equivocal diction, and imagery imply the point. It is as i f attack is his f ir s t p rio rity in the later poems, whereas in the early ones attack is subordinate to yet coordinated with the creation of an a rtis tic a lly successful poem. The least difference in quality exists in his employment of prosody; poems in both the early and later groups illu s tra te both

Burns's s k ill and his clumsiness at underscoring s a tiric relationships with auditory suggestions. Certainly there are exceptions to these generalizations: “Tam o' Shanter' is excellent, much more artistic than the epistles to Lapraik and Rankin or "Dedication to Hamilton" or "When Guilford Good,," But la te r poems such as the four Heron ballads, "Brigs of Ayr," "Tam Samson's Elegy," and "Monody on Maria," though lucid in the.v attack, do not have the organic unity of theme, form, and technique that exists in "The Holy Fair," "Love and Liberty,"

"Holy W illie 's Prayer," "The Ordination," "Death and Doctor Hornbook," and other«early satires. Selecting two pieces representing opposite ends on a spectrum of m erit, we could say that Burns "slovenly butchers" his target in "Ode on Mrs. Oswald," whereas he delicately separates Holy W illie's "Head from the Body, and leaves i t standing 91 in its place." 250

^, "A Discourse Concerning the Original and Progress of Satire," in Essays o f John Dryden, ed. W. P. Ker (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900), I I , 93.

John Speirs, The Soots Literary Tradition, rev. ed. (London: Faber and Faber, 1962), pp. 119-20.

3Ib id ., p. 217.

4Ib id ., p. 121. 5 Craig, p. 78.

^Crawford, p. 139.

7Ib id ., p. 135. O For other examples of the effectiveness of Burns's juxtaposi­ tions of aristocratic language and the homely vernacular, see "A Dream," as in 11. 1-9, 28-31, 66-71, and "Author's Cry and Prayer," 11. 49-135.

^Numbers XVI.30-33, in The Holy Bible, King James Version (Chicago: Good Counsel, 1960). Hereafter a ll citations to the Bible are listed by book, chapter, and verse. This reference is cited by Kinsley, III, 1037; for many of the subsequent citations to Biblical passages I am indebted to Kinsley's work in locating exact sources.

^He alludes to King David's request that the sons of Herman play horns in praise 6 f God, as recorded in I Chronicles XXV.4-6 (cited by Kinsley, III, 1044).

]1Wittig, p. 212.

12I Peter V.8; I I Samuel XXI 1.11; Psalms XVI11.10 (cited by Kinsley, III, 1129).,

13Kinsley, I I I , 1095.

^Ezekiel XXXVI.26 (cited by Kinsley, III, 1104). 15 Kinsley adds that the poem is written in the "'language of the saints'— that improbable amalgam of biblical English and collo­ quial Scots which was characteristic of the Covenanter and the Presby­ terian evangelical" (III, 1048).

^Romans X II.6 and John V.35 (cited by Kinsley, III, 1050). Kinsley adds that the second part of the passage from John is probably iron ically implied: "He was a burning and a shining lig h t and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light." He is echoing Paul's speech in II Corinthians X II.7-10 that he glories in the pain that is caused by Satan and permitted by God as a way of preventing Paul from becoming too egotistical about-his a b ilitie s .

^11 Chronicles VI. 19-21 and I Kings V III.28-30 (cited by Kinsley, III, 1052). 19 James Kinsley and James T. Boulton, eds. , English S atiric P oetry (1966; rpt. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1970), pp. 125-26.,

20Psalms X X X III.3; Psalms LXVI.l; Psalms LXXXI.l; etc. (cited by Kinsley, III, 1304).

^Deuteronomy X III. 13; I I Samuel XX. 1; Judges XIX.22; Ezekiel X X II.27.

22Psalms 11.6 (cited by Kinsley, III, 1305).

23Kinsley, I I I , 1197.

pc Thomas Carlyle, "Burns," in Carlyle's "Essay on Burnsa " ed. Charles Lane Hanson (1897; rpt. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1930), p. 149.

2^A11an H. MacLaine, "Burns's Use of Parody in 'Tam o' Shanter,"' C r itic is m , 1 (Fall 1959), 311. 27 MacLaine also points out that the humor of inserting an apostrophe to Care is "enhanced by the offhand and highly indecorous way in which this usually dignified personage is disposed of— he drowns himself in Tam's liquor" (p. 311). 28 Daiches, B urnst p. 255.

MacLaine, pp. 312-13?

30Kinsley, III, 1130-32.

■^MacLaine, p. 311.

32David Daiches, "Robert Burns After 200 Years," L is te n e, r 61 (January 29, 1959), 204.

33Kinsley, I I I , 1189. 34 , A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, in Kinsley, III, 1155. 252 36 Crawford, p. 136.

36Kinsley, I I I , 1157.

37Ibido, p. 1161. 38 W. K. Wimsatt, The Verbal lo o n (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1954), p. 138.

3^Crawford, p„ 119.

^Raymond Bentman, "Robert Burns's Use of Scottish Diction," in From S ensibility to Romanticism, eds. Frederick W. Hilles and (New York: Oxford University Press, 1965), p. 244. 41 See also the intensity the satire gains from active, concrete verbs in 11. 160-68 and 215-28.

42Kinsley, III, 1062. 43 See also the way that specific verbs give lines 109-14 and 181-86 a contrasting depiction to that evoked by lines 127-30; the qualities of the verbs and the contrasting degrees of concreteness create remarkably suitable pictures of two variant preaching styles.

44Kinsley, III, 1525.

45Ib id ., p. 1472.

46Crawford, pp. 118-19. 47 's Satan declares "But ever to do ill [will be] our sole delight" in , in Complete Poems and Major Prose, ed. Merrit Y. Hughes (New York: Press, 1957), I, 160. 48 See also how anti-climax degrades P itt and Fox in "Sketch to Fox," 11. 45-50; King Louis's antagonism to the French Revolution in "Tree of Liberty," 11.' 37-40; the incompetent Faculty of Advocates in "Dean of the Faculty," 11 17-20;and the wool-gathering judges in "Extempore, Court of Sessions," 11. 15-16. 49 Craig, p. 246.

^MacLaine, p. 314.

51Craig, p. 246. 52 I t is significant that Burns does not use the "high style of the " in "Tam o’ Shanter"; instead he prefers the "quick succession of rhymes" of the octosyllabic couplet, "long favoured by 253

Scots poets for narrative poems, and for popular poetry of the folk epic type"--M. L. Mackenzie, "A New Dimension forTam o' Shanter*" Studies in Scottish Literature, 1 (October 1963), 91. 53 Daiches, Burns, p. 254.,

^Christina Keith, The Russet Coat (London: Hale, 1956), p. 69.

55Kinsley, III, 1308.

56W ittig, p. 208. 57 "The Mauchline Wedding," "The Holy Fair," and some portions of "Love and Liberty" use the Christis Kirk stanza, which has been from its inception characterized by reliance on alliteration.

^Crawford, p. 354. 59 Ibid.

60Ib id ., p. 356.


62Ib id ., p. 232.

f i ^ I. A. Richards in The P hilosophy o f R h e to ric (New York: Oxford University Press, 1936), p., 96, distinguishes tenor as the "underlying idea or principal subject which the vehicle or figure means."

^ C ra ig , p. 123.

^See also "To Rev. M'Math" where the Auld Lichts are "a pack sae sturdy" (1. 15). In "Address to the Deil" Burns compares the devil to "a roaring lion," a serpent who lurks in "the human bosom," "a drake,/On whistling wings," a "snick-drawing dog" (11. 19, 23-24, 47-48, 91). See also "A Dream" in which he compares the king's taxes to a sheepshearer who "fleeces" the people; then he parallels the king and a bird who cannot keep order in his own nest (11. 48, 32-33). fifi Compare the persona's ea rlie r image in which bees are mentioned in reference to the joy of the carousers in the tavern ("Tam o' Shanter," 11. 55-56). fi7 Burns emphasizes his mock lament for a p o litic a l battle in "Epistle to Graham" by wishing his voice were a "lioness th&t mourns/ Her darling cub's undoing!" (11. 98-99). Insultingly he labels one minister a puppy who w ill lead a pack, describes another's "CALF'S- HEAD o' sma' value," and mentions another's "turkey-cock pride" ("The 254

Kirk of Scotland’s Garland," 11, 28-29, 41, 54). See also "Monody on Maria" (1„ 22), "Esopus to Maria" (1, 20), "Buy Braw Troggin" (11. 33-36), and "Epistle to Logan" [11, 1-6) for other examples of short metaphorical passages employing animal images. fift See also the image of grinding wheat in "Address to the Unco Guid," 11, 5-8, fiQ See too in "To Rev. M'Math" a reference to "gospel colors" and "holy robes" that only screen a "hellish s p irit" (11. 47-48, 77-78) and the mockery of "silken pomp" worn by the pretentious women in "The Mauchline Wedding." The later satires do not use this type of imagery except in these two isolated cases: in "Tam o' Shanter" Burns says lawyers' tongues are "wi1 lies seam'd lik e a beggar's clout"; and in "The Ploughman" he makes a description of oxen plowing a furrow be a metaphorical representation of fornication.

78Speirs, p. 123.

7^See also in "Tam o ‘ Shanter" the witches chasing Tam and Meg like a "market-crowd,/When 'Catch the th ie f!' resounds aloud" (11. 197-98]

78Note too the allusion to Hebrews IV .12-13. 73 The Monsmeg was a piece of ordnance, with a twenty-inch bore (Kinsley, I I I , 1345). 74 See sim ilar images in "Wha'll M_w Me Now," "Act Sedurant of the Session," the "Second Heron Ballad," and "To a,Louse." 75 James Kinsley, "The Rustic Inmates of the Hamlet,"Review o f English Literature, 1 (January 1960), 21.

78C raw ford, Bu^s, p, 148, 77 . . Later satires do not use socializing imagery for satiric purposes, except "Monody on Maria'1 and "Esopus to Maria," where b rie f comparisons are made between Maria's poetry and an "idiot lyre,"

78Daiches, "Burns 200 Years A fter," p. 204. 79 See also the commonplace depiction of Hell in "Dedication to Hamilton," 11. 70-77.

80Genesis IX 22-25; Numbers XXV.11-13; Exodus IV .24-26. 81 Describing "New Psalm," Burns said, "I cannot say that try heart ran any risk of bursting . . , with the struggling emotions of gratitude [upon learning of the king's recovery]. . . . I must say that I look on the whole business as a solemn of pageant mummery" (Letters, I, 329). 255 op In "The Bonniest Lass" he adds that King Solomon, "prince of divines „ „ , Baith mistresses an' concubines/In hundre's had" (11. 32-36)..

^Pope, , p. 346 (III, 175-76). 84 Tom Brown, The Stage Beaux', toss'd in a Blanket; or Hypo- crisie Alamode, in Kinsley, III, 1096.

Milton, Paradise Lost, IX, 896, 900. fifi Alexander Pope,The Rape o f the Lock3 in Poetry and Prose of Alexander Pope, ed. Aubrey Williams (Boston: Houghton M ifflin , 1969), p. 94 (IV, 64).

0 7 Oliver Goldsmith, "The Deserted Village," inThe Complete, P o e tic a l Works o f O liv e r G oldsm ith, ed. Austin Dobson (London: Henry Frowde, 1911), p. 31 (11. 251-54).

^ M ilto n , Paradise Lost, I , 128-29; Burns, L e tte r s, I, 96-97.

^Pope, The D uncia/i, p. 308 (1.19-20). 90 Among the la te r satires Burns adds a headnote only for "The Calf"; drawn from Malachi, the sentence is not its e lf s a tiric but enunciates the basic idea that Burns w ill adapt into a s a tiric pun.


Two passages--"Come to my bowl, Come to my arms,/My friends, my brothers" and "The heart ay’s the part ay,/That makes us right or wrang"— epitomize the general thrust of Burns's s a tiric alterna­ tives ("Epistle to Lapraik," 11.125-26*, "Epistle to Davie," 11.69-70).

In his satires he manipulates forms and techniques so as to develop his attacks; at the same time, however, he is showing us those qualities which he approves. He so identifies his s a tiric targets with the repulsive that he guides us to share his antagonistic attitude; repelled by certain qualities, the reader seeks alternatives—whether Burns has merely implied or e x p licitly stated the contrasting norms. Burns uses two major patterns for revealing his satiric norms: by delineating contrasting sides, attacking one, and explicitly stating preference for the other, he reveals his alternatives; more frequently, by attacking individuals or groups who illustrate repugnant qualities of character and/or behavior, he suggests his preference for contrast­ ing values. Despite obvious variations in techniques, vehicles, and tactics, he embraces the same alternatives throughout his poetry. Not only his satiric poems but even his letters and his 1783-85 Common­ p la ce Book illu s tra te the consistency in his targets and alternatives.

Experience and time may intensify his commitment to s a tiric norms, but they do not create new ones. To look at i t another way, Burns knows from his e arliest manhood the tra its he likes and dislikes, and he is not reluctant to state those opinions. The qualities he attacks include incompetence that results in harm to others, intolerance that 257 creates unjust oppression, avarice, hypocritical pretensions, and false pride. By examining these targets from a different angle, we can discern the particular characteristics he views as alternatives or norms.

One of Burns's targets, predominantly in satires whose specific illustrations are drawn from the political arena, is incompetence.

He suggests that one must illustrate dedication and ability in his profession. Dr. Hornbook's lack of a b ility leads Death to call him a k ille r rather than a healer ("Death and Doctor Hornbook"). The priest violates the rules of his calling when he fornicates with the parishioner who sought aid in controlling her eroticism (" I'll Tell

You a Tale"). When Burns attacks Fox, P itt, North, King George I I I , the Duke of Queensberry, and other governmental leaders, he is showing how poorly they perform, how much courage, dedication, and principles they lack. Such British generals as Howe and Clinton are mocked for their failures in the American Revolution ("Address of Beelzebub");

Charles Fox's proclivity for gambling and whoring distracts him from his duties ("When Guilford Good" and "A Dream"); the Duke of Queens­ berry is too cowardly to fight loyally for his country ("Epistle to

Graham" and "Laddies by the Banks of N ith"); King George cannot con­ trol his American colonies, heeds misguided counsel, and rewards flatterers with important positions ("A Dream"). Obviously, these inadequacies lead to i l l effects, such as the bloodbaths in wars inaugurated for base motives ("When Princes and Prelates"). Burns does not explicitly state what political qualifications he deems 258 necessary for good and honest government; nor does he consistently adhere to one political faction's view or perceive politicians in general as being honest or ableJ 3y implication., however, he seems to favor leaders who possess in te g rity , genuine concern for the needs and rights of those whom they govern, and a commitment to pro­ ductive working habits. 2 Throughout his lif e Burns places high value on independence.

That is, he reiterates his faith in the right and need for each individual to know himself, to make his own choices, and to bear the consequences. He is constantly at odds with the forces of authority-- societal, Calvinist, polltical—that seek to force people into certain courses of action. This respect for independent choices underlies the b itte r attack of the Highland Society that is developed in

"Address of Beelzebub." Beelzebub, the ironic persona, asks

. . . what right hae they [Highlanders trying to emigrate] To Meat, or Sleep, or light o' day, Far less to riches, pow'r, or freedom, But what your lordships PLEASE TO GIE THEM? (11.27-30)

The attack in "Reply to a Tailor"evolves from Burns's implied question,

"Who are you to presume to te ll me how to conduct my private life?"

This respect for the freedom to choose underlies his in itia l enthu­ siasm for the French Revolution's ideals of Liberty, Fraternity, and

Equality. It is with obvious regret that he notes that a similar tree of liberty does not grow in England ("Tree of Liberty," 11.63-64).

"Holy W illie 's Prayer" develops from Burns's irrita tio n that Gavin

Hamilton was censured by the local Kirk elders (including William

Fisher) for his decisions about church attendance. Ecclesiasts are frequently the specific individuals whom Burns

cites when attacking unjust oppression. Not only do Kirk rules under­

cut individual choice in general, but they particularly seek to repress

natural human desires, such as sexual desire. The Kirk seeks to deny,

d ive rt, and punish what Burns believes is an elemental and natural

function. "The Holy Fair" is structured on the contrasts between "the

life of nature and natural man" and "the artifices of religious hypo­

crisy and display," between "the force of sexual and social instinct"

and "the shams of pulpit rhetoric and 'polemical divinity.'"^ Of the

three "hizzies" Burns's clear preference is Fun, certainly not the

Superstition he seems to link with the Kirk's dogma and not the

Hypocrisy the Kirk's oppressive rules encourage. The desire for Fun,

though not exclusively of a sexual nature, is basically undeniable.

Even while the preachers evoke the horrors of Hell and the Devil, the

listeners are thinking "upo* their claes," the opposite sex, the

"bakes an' g ills " and "pint-stowp." The combination of " f a i t h an' hope, an' love an' d rin k " (1.232) expresses Burns's alternatives to

the Kirk's authoritarian repression. Again he mocks the Kirk's attempts to regulate sexual a c tiv ity when he imagines the punishment

is "dungeons deep," equated by Burns with female genitalia ("Act

Sedurant of the Session"). He implies his acceptance of sexuality

also when he sides with the female speaker in "Wha'll M_w Me Now" and with the vagabonds' casual approach to fornication in "Love and

Liberty." By rather proudly recording some of his own sexual exploits,

he more straightforwardly shows his beliefs (e.g. "Epistle to Rankin," "Epistle to Lapraik," and "The Fornicator"). The sins of the flesh are more honest, Burns suggests, than sins arising from lack of generosity and compassion., It would be false to assert that Burns's defense of the naturalness of sexual intercourse derives solely from an ideological bent, even though he does revere independence of choice and does state, "Whatsoever is not detrimental to Society & is of positive Enjoyment, is of God the Giver of all good things, & ought to be received & enjoyed by his creatures with thankful delight"

(Letters, I I , 58). Burns's opinions derive largely from his tempera­ ment; he engaged in sexual intercourse at w ill, and he twice ran afoul of the Kirk discipline--thus, personality explains to some degree 5 the force of his attacks on Kirk repression.

Furthermore, Burns believes generally in the principle of equality and specifically in the precept that an individual's worth be measured by mind and character rather than by wealth and status.

He censures ambition because i t leads "up the h ill of lif e . . . for the dishonest pride of looking down on others of our fellow-creatures seemingly diminutive in humbler stations" and notes with bitterness that justice and societal opinion operate differently for the rich and the poor. Not only is judgment based on su p erficialities unfair but i t encourages arrogance, pretense, and greed. As a member of the peasantry, Burns is personally sensitive to the haughty indifference he sees in many of the aristocracy. But he is not merely a "have-not" venting his envy of those who are wealthier or socially superior. Some of the aristocracy he likes and praises.^ But those who abuse their rank or riches stimulate his attack because their abuses often create 261 oppression of other people's rights and beliefs. When he writes in

"To Mr. John Kennedy"

Now if ye're ane o' warl's folk, Wha rate the wearer by the cloak An' sklent on poverty their joke Wi' bitter sneer, Wi' you no friendship I will troke Nor cheap nor dear. (11.19-24) he explicitly declares his hostility. The haughty and miserly Mrs.

Oswald is savagely mocked in "Ode on Mrs. Oswald," for Burns records that "Humanity's sweet melting grace," "pity's flood," and generosity are the desirable characteristics that she lacks. The distinction between qualities he attacks and those he admires is equally clear in "Epistle to Lapraik":

Awa ye selfish, warly race, Wha think that havins, sense an' grace good manners Ev'n love an' friendship should give place To c a te h -th e -p la o k \ (11.115-18) money grubbing

Ceasar in "The Twa Dogs" not only indicts the powerful rich for their rudeness and cruelty but also exposes their boredom and the point­ lessness of their pursuits of superficial pleasures. In contrast,

Luath describes the deep-felt pleasure the peasants find in simple things--their families (the peasants' "dearest comfort"), their happiness with a l i t t l e "nappy," their delight in "unite[ing] in common at Hallcwmass and New Year's Eve (11.129-38).

Stating his standards for judging friends and his alternatives to evaluation on mere appearance, Burns writes,

But ye whom social pleasure charms, Whose hearts the tide of kindness warms, Who hold your being on the terms, "Each aid the others," Come to my bowl, come to rny arms, My friends, my brothers! ("Epistle to Lapraik," 11.121-26). Judgments based on superficial qualities can not only cause one to overlook points of merit but they also foment hypocrisy. The latter Burns finds to be especially prevalent in the Kirk. Burns champions honesty, but the Kirk's rigid rules, its dogmatic inter­ pretations of the Calvinist code, and its tendency to judge the spiritual worth of a person on the basis of appearances encourage pretense. The hypocrisy of Holy Willie has its foundation in the

Calvinist dogma, for Willie believes that his errors are caused by

God, not by himself. And i t is only to God that he can even mention his drunkenness and lechery; to the community he presents himself as a "chosen sample," "a p illa r ," "a guide, a ruler and example" ("Holy

W illie's Prayer," 11.25-30). Burns mocks the church member who sneaks out the back window of a brothel but is quick to condemn the honest sinner who goes openly to the front door ("Dedication to

Hamilton," 11.55-56). The "true believer" who has the "face of a saint" also possesses the "heart that wad poison a hog" ("Kirk of

Scotland's Garland," 11.50-51); the apparently pious who bows his head in prayer is really sleeping ("Holy Fair," 11.197-98); the man who thinks himself Elect has a "grace-prood face" and "raxan [e la s tic ] conscience" ("To M'Math," 11.20-22); the persona in "Tam o' Shanter" suffers a divided mind because he tries to adhere to the morally rigid standards of his community. Repeatedly, then, Burns is making the point that he who professes his piety to outsiders is frequently a sinner; and it is Calvinist rigidity that forces this outward pretense. Burns suggests that honesty with oneself and with others 263

is a viable alternative; a refusal to pretend can lead to increased

self-knowledge, a penitent heart, and more sympathetic understanding

of others' lapses.

The attitudes of the aristocracy also feed the impetus to pre­

tend. Those who judge worth on outward signs--dress, bank account,

bearing—shortsightedly ignore intrinsic worth. Burns does not

absolve individuals' avarice not their desires to seem important.

But he does believe the social environment encourages a person's

desire to secure or to pretend to have money and position. Jenny

is , debatedly, a servant who dons a fancy bonnet in order to pretend

to a higher social class ("To a Louse"). The women in "Mauchline

Wedding" dress in fancy clothes in order to seem more important than

they are. Doctor Hornbook enjoys being the village physician

because i t elevates his social standing ("Death and Doctor Hornbook").

Burns, in contrast, affirms honesty with others, because public

pretense can create falsity in self-understanding and because sincerity and candor are distinguishing characteristics of honest friendship.

Just as he speaks against evaluation of worth by superficiali­ tie s , Burns believes principles, emotions, and loyalty should not be subject to cash purchase. For example, "The Fite Champetre" mocks the voter who w ill sell his vote and the candidate who offers to buy it ; "Such a Parcel of Rogues" scorns the "hireling traitors" who "bought and sold" Scotland "for English gold.'1 The thrust of his burlesque poems is sim ilar, for he attacks false sentiments as

fiercely as he satirizes feigned piety, status, and political principles. Burns again implies that honesty is the desirable alternative to

simulated emotion. Through the use of the burlesque vehicle in "Poor

M ailie's Elegy," "The Death and Dying Words o f Poor M ailie," "Tam

Samson's Elegy," and "Ode to Spring" he censures those who simulate

excessive outpourings of g rie f and passion. I t is not intensity of

emotion or the ode and elegy forms that he mocks; rather, he ridicules

emotion ill-s u ite d to the stimulus. Odes and elegies can express

sincere feelings, but too often they only record banalities and


Not only does Burns affirm honesty rather than sham, judgment

by worth rather than by wealth and rank, and pride in character

rather than pride in ill-gotten riches and status; he also feels

strong antipathy for those intolerant of others' weaknesses. Whether

those are physical, moral, or spiritual weaknesses, Burns urges com­

passion. Part of his definition of worth includes "Truth and O Humanity respecting our fellow-creatures." In the same vein he

states that mankind feels "detestation of . . . inhumanity to the

distressed" and of "insolence to the fallen"; "who but sympathizes with the miseries of a ruined profligate brother?" L ( e tte r s, I, 269).

In "Address to the Unco Guid" he is chiding those who incompassionately

"mark and tell/Y our Neebours' fauts and folly" (11.3-4). This poem

also contains Burns's most e x p lic it affirmation of alternatives to a

c r itic a l, intolerant, unjust condemnation of human weaknesses: 265

Then gently scan your brother Man, S till gentler sister Woman; Tho' they may gang a kennin wrang, t r i f l e To step aside is human: One point must s till be greatly dark, The moving Why they do it ; And ju st as lamely can ye mark, How far perhaps they rue i t .

Who made the heart, 'tis He alone Decidedly can try us, He knows each chord its various tone, Each spring its various bias: Then at the balance le t's be mute, We never can adjust it ; What's done we partly may compute, But know not what's re s is te d . (11.49-64)

That sort of tolerance is what he finds lacking in many Kirk leaders.

The ministers delineated in "The Holy Tulzie" are not even com­ passionate toward each other, much fess toward their parishioners.

One minister "liked weel to shed their [sinners] blood,/And sell their skin" (11.35-36). His opponent

. . . fine a maingie sheep could scrub, And nobly swing the Gospel-club; Or New-light Herds could nicely drub, And pay their skin; flog Or hing them o'er the burning dub, puddle Or shute them in .--(11.43-48)

In "To William Simpson—Postscript" the dispute between two religious sects is symbolized as a bloody b attle; Holy W illie demands that a cruel God harshly punish Gavin Hamilton and his supporters. "The

Ordination" and "Kirk of Scotland's Garland" also use the imagery of battles to record the ecclesiasts' lack of tolerance for opposing views. These verbal and physical disputes are obviously incompatible with Christian teachings. Burns need not even enunciate his alterna­ tives, for the poems' depictions of brutal intolerance stimulate us 266 to question "How should a minister act?" The Kirk's intolerance and narrow-mindedness are well documented in Burns's satires. In a letter he explains one reason for his attacks on the Kirk: "I hate the very idea of controversial divinity; as I firmly believe, that every honest, upright man of whatever sect, w ill be accepted of the q Deity." The Kirk by its rigidity promotes division, at odds with Burns's ideal of brotherly, understanding fellowship. Busily enforcing its rules, punishing offenders, and threatening the horrors of H ell, the Kirk fa ils to offer sympathy or understanding to the sinner. Moreover, Burns also attacks the Calvinist b e lie f in salvation by faith alone. Burns advances an alternative--morally good works:

It 's naething but a milder feature, generosity and honesty Of our poor, s in fu ', corrupt Nature: Y e 'll get the best o' moral works, 'Mang black Gentoos, and Pagan T u rks, Or Hunters wild on P o n o ta x, i Wha never heard of Orth_d_*y. That he's the poor man's friend in need, The GENTLEMAN in word and deed, It's no through terror of D_mn_t n; It's just a carnal inclination. T'Dedication to Hamilton," 11.39-48)

In a le tte r to Hamilton he iterates the same principles— the "carnal moral works of charity, humanity, generosity, and forgiveness" are promoted by Burns but not by the Kirk L ( e tte r s, I , 142).

Despite his many attacks of Kirk leaders and dogma, Burns is no more an "irreligious monster" than he is an anarchist or disloyal

Briton when he satirizes p o litica l personages (L e tte r s, I , 184).

But Burns's spiritual vision is not the same as the one enforced by the Calvinist Kirk. I t may be, as Fairchild says, that Burns attacks

his enemies in an attempt to justify himself, that his religion "was

a self-approving indulgence of his emotions." Noting that Burns

is not "a wholly disinterested authority on the difference between

real and pretended decorum," Fairchild adds that Burns embraced

beliefs "which would sanction a ll his impulses, both good and b ad ."^

Indeed personal temperament is a factor in his formulation of beliefs.

But there is more to Burns's vision than ju st self-indulgence. He

has assimilated with the demands of his temperament several beliefs

drawn from humanitarian deism and the cult of sentimentalism promul­

gated by contemporaneous Scottish men of lette rs. Burns, however,

is no philosopher, no mystic, no meditative or reflective thinker;

he subscribes to no single code in p o litical or religious a ffilia tio n s .

Rather, the evidence of the satires indicates that he embraces a

broad-based humanitarianism, sim ilar to the convictions advanced in

this statement: "Whatever mitigates the wees, or increases the

^happiness, of others, this is my criterion of goodness; and whatever \ injures society at large, or any individual in it, this is my measure

of iniquity" { L e tte r s, I, 342). Of course he recognizes that foolish

and vicious behavior occurs; at the same time, nonetheless, he believes

in the existence of virtue and in the theory that "we come into this

world witn a heart & disposition to do good for i t . . ." ( L e tte r s,

I , 242).

"Doing good" requires respect for the rights of others to

choose their thoughts and behavior; hence Burns attacks the 268

Establishment for authoritarian imposition of rules. "Good" requires

performing one's job, as p o litician , farmer, lord of an estate, or

m inister, in a capable and compassionate manner, while recognizing

also that the more power one has the more wide-spread and intense

the i l l effects can be. He believes in kind, generous, compassionate

treatment o f others, for he professes that each of us must acknowledge

the imperfections of all humans; thus, he assails the intolerance

of clerical leaders, the self-serving acts of governmental leaders,

and the in differen t arrogance of the aristocracy. Because he thinks

honesty with one's self and with others is essential, Burns repeatedly

exposes the hypocritical pretensions he sees. And because pretense

often emerges when position and riches serve as standards of m erit,

he satirizes those who evaluate worth by superficial criteria. The

greed that overrides principles, duty, and compassion leads to dis­

honesty and indifference; thus he exposes individuals' avarice to

satiric mockery. By indirection--that is, by satirizing certain

*tra its --h e advances those principles he affirms. His letters do con­

tain mQre explicit comment about his principles, but the satires are

just as clear in their implications about his satiric norms.

A nineteenth-century c r itic is not alone in his estimation of

Burns's characteristics: "large sympathy, generous enthusiasm, reck­

less abandonment, fierce indignation, melting compassion, rare flashes i i of moral insight . . Robert Fitzhugh, for example, more than

a century la te r echoes these judgments in more detail:

He was bawdy, political, satiric, sentimental, impudent, humorous. He wrote of people he knew, and he spoke with the voice of men like his 269

father, driven by landlords and oppressed by a class system- . . . He celebrated in his poems the honest man of good heart, and the sweet sonsy [jo lly ] lass, and the joys of friendship and love. He dignified simple li f e and spoke with zest of those even lower down than himself. He cried out for recognition of a b ility , w it, and worth, and he denounced oppression, privilege, and the unevenness of fortune. He contrasted the spontaneous, impulsive, 'feeling' lif e with considered dull attention to profit and advantageJ2

Burns himself asserts that "Love is the Alpha and Omega of human enjoy­ ment" [L e tte r s , I, 298), that the "GENTLEMAN in word and deed" is he who is the "poor man's friend in need" ("Dedication to Hamilton,"

11.45-46). He apparently shares the jo lly beggars' opinion that " if we lead a life of pleasure,/'Tis no matter HOW or WHERE," for in com­ munal sharing of enjoyments exist mutual expressions of love and 1 3 compassion ("Love and Liberty," 11.260-61). Brotherly love, a benevolent heart, a generous s p ir it, truthfulness, independence of action, loyalty to principle and people— these may be generalities, but they are the broad principles that Burns affirms throughout his satiric poetry. That Burns once wrote "The Georgies are to me the best of " is not surprising, for The Georgias and Burns's satires extoll sim ilar qualities: the simple virtues, the hardihood, the self-reliance, and the sense of insular community that both found to prevail in rural settings ( L e tte r s, I , 221). Scotland's rural areas are literally and figuratively the solid place from which Burns viewed and reacted; their values give to him an angle of vision from which to formulate targets to attack and alternatives to affirm. And they give focus to his celebrations of an almost Falstaffian enjoyment of li f e . 270

For example, he states: "Politics is a science wherewith, by means of nefarious cunning, & hypocritical pretense, we govern c iv il Politics for the emolument o f ourselves & our adherents" [L e tte r s , II, 149). Burns favors no political party long. Because he expressed Jacobite sympathies, he could be called a Tory; but in the late 1780's he sided with Fox and the Whigs, and then in the early 1790's he opposed Whig candidates.

^Expressed in L e tte r s, I, 59, 203, 283; I I , 2, 72, 78, 164, 171, 300. O Maurice Lindsay, in The Burns Encyclopedia, 2nd ed. (London: Hutchinson, 1970), p. 159, lis ts the charges against Hamilton: unnecessary absences from five Sunday services within two months, beginning a trip on a Sabbath, neglecting family worship, and sending an abusive le tte r to the Kirk Session.

4Kinsley, III, 1095. 5 When he admitted responsibility for the pregnancies of Elizabeth Paton and of Jean Armour, he was punished by the Kirk.

6L e tte r s, I I , 12, 51-52.

^See, for examples,L e tte r s , I, 42-43, 45, 61, 96. O He adds, "Reverence and Humility in the presence of that Being, my Creator and Preserver, and who, I have every reason to believe, w ill one day be my Judge" L ( e tte r s, I , 154). g L e tte rs , I , 161; see also L e tte r s , I , 345.

^Hoxie Neale Fairchild, 1780-1830: Romantic Faith (New York: Columbia University Press, 1949), pp. 47, 64.

^Principal Shairp, Robert Burns (New York: Hajrper and Bros., 1879),* p. 190. 12 Robert T. Fitzhugh, Robert Burns, The Man and the Poet (Boston: Houghton M ifflin , 1970), p. 12. 13 For representative examples o f these sentiments, see "Love and Liberty," "Halloween," "The Twa Dogs," "The Holy Fair," and "Epistle to Lapraik." LIST OF WORKS CITED

Barke, James. "Pornography and Bawdry in Literature and Society." Robert Bums: The Merry Muses o f Caledonia. Eds. James Barke and Sidney Goodsir Smith. New York: G. P. Putnam, 1964, 23-37j

Bentman, Raymond. "Robert Burns's Declining Fame." S tu d ie s in Romanticism. 11 (Summer 1972), 207-24.

Bentman, Raymond. "Robert Burns's Use o f Scottish Diction." From Sensibility to Romanticism: Essays Presented to Frederick A. P o ttle. Eds. Frederick W. Hi lies and Harold Bloom. New York: Oxford University Press, 1965. 239-58.

Bond, Richmond. English Burlesque Poetry 1700-1750. 1932; rpt. New York: Russell and Russell, 1964.

Burns, Robert. Commonplace Book 1783-85. Eds. James Cameron Ewing and Davidson Cook. 1938; rpt. Carbondale: Southern Illin o is Press, 1965.

Burns, Robert. The Letters o f Robert Bums. Ed. J. DeLancey Ferguson. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1931.

Burns, Robert. The Merry Muses o f Caledonia. Ed. G. Legman. New Hyde Park, New York: University Books, 1965.

Burns, Robert. The Poems and Songs o f Robert Bums. Ed. James Kinsley. 3 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968.

C arlyle, Thomas. "Burns." Carlyle's "Essay on Bums." Ed. Charles Lane Hanson. 1897; rpt. Boston: Ginn and Co., 1930.

Chambers, Robert, ed. The L if e and Works o f R obert Bum s. 4 parts in 2 vols. Edinburgh: W. and R. Chambers, 1856.

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Jane Bowling Kennerly was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. In

1959 she graduated from Middlesboro High School, in Middlesboro,

Kentucky. After attending Tennessee Wesleyan College in for two years, she transferred to the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

In 1963 she received the Bachelor of Arts degree,magna oum laude.

She then entered graduate school at the University of Tennessee, where she worked as a grading and teaching assistant for the English Depart­ ment while pursuing graduate studies. After receiving the Master of

Arts degree in 1965, she became an instructor of English at Virginia

Polytechnic In stitute in Blacksburg. Two years later she returned to graduate school, attending Louisiana State University for three years on an NDEA Fellowship. In 1970 she joined the University of

Tennessee English Department as an instructor. At present she is a candidate for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at Louisiana State

University. She is married to John Mauk Kennerly. EXAMINATION AND THESIS REPORT

Candidate: Jane Bowling Kennerly

Major Field: English

Title of Thesis: Robert Burns's Satiric Poetry


/ 7 ~ C .

Major Professor and Chairman

Dean of the GradtHfte School


Date of Examination:

November 29, 1976